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GT World Challenge Asia

Origine’s Lu Scores Second Win of Season at Buriram

Lu Wei triumphs alongside Porsche’s Patrick Pilet; Audi’s Markus Winkelhock also tastes success in Thailand…

Photo: GT World Challenge Asia

Origine Motorsport’s Lu Wei scored his second win of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS season last weekend at Buriram alongside Porsche factory driver Patrick Pilet, as Audi Sport Team Asia Absolute duo Markus Winkelhock and Huang Rouhan also opened their victory account.

Lu, who was joined for last month’s season opener at Sepang in the No. 4 Porsche 911 GT3 R by Laurin Heinrich, took full advantage of misfortune for several of his key rivals in Sunday’s second race at the Thai venue to take sole ownership of the top of the drivers’ standings two rounds into the six-round season.

Victory for Lu and Heinrich in Sepang meant the No. 4 Porsche was only 14th in Saturday’s opening race after its 15-second success penalty, but Pilet lined up sixth on the grid for Race 2 and was up to fourth on the opening lap, helped by a puncture for Maximilian Goetz’s Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.

Leading at this point was the sister Craft-Bamboo car of Maro Engel, as Pilet battled his way past the 5ZIGEN Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of Yu Kanamaru and the Climax Racing Mercedes-AMG of Ralf Aron to run second.

But when Engel and Pilet handed over to respective teammates Cao Qi and Lu, the Craft-Bamboo car was penalized for its pit stop being too short, giving Lu a lead he would maintain to the checkered flag.

Kanamaru’s teammate in the 5ZIGEN Nissan, ‘Hirobon’, was then able to pass the Climax Mercedes-AMG that Aron handed over to Wang Zhongwei to match the Japanese’s squad’s best Fanatec GT Asia finish in second.

As Wang slipped backwards, completing the podium was the Absolute Racing Porsche of defending champion Anthony Liu and Alessio Picariello, with Origine’s second car of Leo Ye Hongli and Yuan Bo coming home fourth.

Winkelhock and Huang battled their way back to fifth following the 15-second penalty they were handed for their victory on Saturday, when the pair led an all-Audi podium.

In that race, Huang had started fourth but an early pitstop put Winkelhock up to second in the No. 40 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II behind his opposite number in the sister No. 41 machine, Akash Nandy, whose teammate James Yu had controlled the opening stint.

Predictably, Nandy proved no match for factory driver Winkelhock, who made the pass with 15 minutes to run and pulled away to the tune of six seconds to seal the victory, with Nandy coming home second.

The Phantom Global Racing-run FAW Audi Sport Asia entry of Franky Cheng and Adderly Fong completed the podium, as Fong resisted intense pressure from the Porsches of Picariello and Ye in the closing stages.

That result, combined with ninth in Race 2, means Cheng and Fong sit second in the standings leaving Thailand, 10 points behind Lu. Origine pair Ye and Yuan sit third in the standings, a further point behind, with Liu and Picariello in fourth.

The next Fanatec GT Asia event will be the inaugural standalone round of the Japan Cup at Sportsland Sugo on June 8-9, with the next round of the main competition taking place at Fuji Speedway on June 22-23.

RESULTS: Race 1/Race 2

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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