Zhejiang/Buriram/Fuji, June 2, 2018 – It was a perfect day for team KINGS in round three of the China GT Championship, with the team recording wins in both the GT3 and GT4 races. Defending series champion Xu Jia claimed his second win of the season behind the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS GT3, this time alongside series debutant Mitch Gilbert. KINGS’ GT3 triumph came hot-on-the-heels of an eye-catching Audi R8 LMS GT4 win for the team’s Naomi Zhang and Martin Rump on the car’s first ever race in China.
“KINGS made history today, recording the first victory for the Audi R8 LMS GT4 in China on the car’s debut in the country. Congrats to the team for their perfect double in Zhejiang,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia.
Crossing the line in second in the GT3 race was David Chen and Michael Choy of Tianshi Racing Team (TSRT) who lost out in a dramatic late-race battle for victory between Audi Sport customer teams.
Chen and Choy’s second place sees them lead the GT3 championship on 51 points ahead of Sunday’s round four. Second in the standings is Xu on 50 points, closely followed by KINGS teammate Wang Liang, who sits third on 49 points, rounding out an all-Audi top three.
In the GT Asia Series, taking place concurrently at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, Absolute Racing’s Sun Jingzu and Cheng Congfu emerged from a bruising round three in second place. The race in Thailand’s north-eastern Isaan province saw a number of retirements in the 22-car field, including Bhurit Bhirombhakdi and Kantasak Kusiri of Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing and B-Quik Racing’s Rahel Frey and Daniel Bilski.
In the region’s third big event across the same weekend - the Super Taikyu Series’ showpiece event - the 24 Hours of Fuji, Phoenix Racing Asia faced an early set-back, with the number 82 entry of Alex Yoong, Shaun Thong, Alex Au and Philip Ellis unable to continue after contact with a competitor at the 30-minute mark. The team’s remaining two Audi R8 LMS GT3s are well placed in the top five heading into the night at the foot of Japan’s tallest mountain.
China GT Championship
GT3 race report
As the lights went green in Shaoxing, Zhejiang, Xu got away well from pole in the #1 car, but behind him Wang Liang found himself in trouble, the #8 KINGS entry a casualty of the race start melee. The Chinese driver spun but managed to re-join the pack, albeit right at the back of the field.
As the drivers emerged from the mid-race pit stops, TSRT’s David Chen, taking over from a great stint from Michael Choy, emerged as the race leader, furiously pursued by Mitch Gilbert who had taken over from Xu Jia.
With 15 minutes remaining on the clock, Chen had managed to put some air between him and Gilbert despite carrying 35kg of success ballast, but the Malaysian was closing in. As the battling duo passed a back-marker, Gilbert made an audacious move around the outside to steal the lead. Chen stayed right with him though, attempting the same move a lap later, but without success. It was a nail-biting run to the flag, with Gilbert taking the win from a valiant Chen, who had made the Malaysian work all the way to the finish line.
An impressive comeback by Rump, who had taken over from Wang, saw them take fourth, ahead of TSRT’s Max Wiser and Billy Lo, who had been handed a drive-through penalty for a collision at turn three on the opening lap.
GT4 race report
The compelling Pro-Am pairing of China’s Naomi Zhang and Rump – on double-duties along with his GT3 commitments - took the new Audi R8 LMS GT4 to a debut victory in round three.
A solid drive from Zhang to maintain the KINGS starting position of eighth was followed by a truly epic stint from the Estonian to seize victory. Smart team tactics also played a part with KINGS electing to put Am-classified driver Zhang in the car first.
Following the changeover, Rump set about working his way through the field, moving up the order three places, at which point, the safety car was called out. At the restart, Rump was away like lightning, carving through the field to take a memorable win.
GT Asia Series
Round three report
Audi Sport customer team’s locked out the front row, with Cheng and Sun’s Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 on pole and the EN Sport by Absolute Racing pair of Adderly Fong and Vincent Floirendo beside them.
Cheng got away well, but lost the lead on lap three. Staying in close pursuit of his rivals he handed the car over to Sun, who emerged from the changeover in first place. On his tail was Floirendo who came out of the pits in second after taking over from a strong stint from Fong.
B-Quik Racing’s Rahel Frey fought back superbly after being turned around by a competitor on lap one. The Swiss Audi Sport factory driver rejoined the 22-car field dead last, but carved through the pack to hand over to Bilski in ninth. Unfortunately for the team, Bilski’s stint was short-lived with the car forced into retirement a few laps later with a technical issue.
Bhirombhakdi’s race was also cut short. Having taking over from fellow Thai Kusiri, Bhirombhakdi made contact with an opponent as he moved up the inside ending the race for Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing.
That collision brought out the safety car, which reduced Sun’s race lead at the front to nothing. The safety car was called back in with eight minutes to go, with Sun defending well after coming under immediate attack. The Chinese privateer battled strongly, crossing the line in second.
Further back, the only other Audi to survive the race unscathed was the EN Sport by Absolute Racing machine, which Floirendo brought home in ninth after a spin had curtailed his podium hopes.
For additional details, visit：www.audi-motorsport-asia.com.