Buriram, May 11, 2019 – Audi Sport Asia drivers Martin Rump and Weiron Tan have battled to third overall in round three of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia. The Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute pairing crossed the line on the tail of the second placed competitor having pushed their rival all the way to the flag at Thailand’s Chang International Circuit.
There was joy too for another Audi R8 LMS GT3 squad, B-Quik Racing’s Henk Kiks and Daniel Bilski, who continued their remarkable podium run. The duo, round two class winners last time out in the series, crossed the line third in the Am Cup after battling for the category win for much of the 60-minute race.
“We knew Buriram was going to provide testing conditions for our drivers, but they have started the weekend positively”, said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Congratulations to our podium finishers, let’s push on from here and round off the weekend in style in tomorrow’s round four.”
For the remaining Audi R8 LMS GT3 teams, there were mixed fortunes. Andre Couto and Audi Sport Asia driver David Chen had a challenging outing despite strong pace from both drivers throughout the pace. A technical issue ended the race for the Audi Sport Asia Team TSRT pair from sixth place with less than five minutes to go.
Bhurit Bhirombhakdi and Kantasak Kusiri battled back after contact from a competitor put them to the very rear of the 24-car GT3 field, eventually finishing 10th, fifth in the Pro/Am class. Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute’s Cheng Congfu and Sun Jingzu were another to suffer contact with a competitor, this one ending the Chinese squad’s race as the seconds ticked to zero.
After three rounds out of 12 in the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia, Tan and Rump sit fifth in the overall championship (27 points). The Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute duo are now fourth in the Silver Cup (40 points), 26 points ahead of Chen and Couto, who lie in eighth place in class (14 points).
In the Pro/Am classification, Bhirombhakdi and Kusiri are fourth (33 points), just 14 points from the top spot.
Kiks and Bilski’s Am Cup podium in round three catapults the pair into second place in the category (40 points), 13 points from class lead.
The afternoon downpour predicted by many failed to materialise at the Chang International Circuit, and nothing but searing heat and intense humidity greeted the five Audi R8 LMS GT3 squads as they took to the grid amongst the 30-strong field.
When the lights went green Weiron Tan, who had started in fifth was swamped, dropping to eighth, before the Malaysia recovered well to be back up to sixth by the end of lap one.
Fellow Audi Sport Asia driver David Chen meanwhile had his Audi Sport Asia Team TSRT machine up from 11th to eighth by lap one. The Chinese ace, continued his charge unabated, first moving into seventh, before locking horns with Tan and moving past him to sixth, setting the fastest lap of the race by that stage in the process.
Bhirombhakdi had started in 12th place, but a hit from a competitor after the race start saw the Thai privateer fall to 24th, dead last in terms of the GT3 runners. Unfazed, he proceeded to carve his way through the field and was up to 15th by the midrace driver change.
Up ahead, B-Quik Racing’s Daniel Bilski had got away from the lights like a man possessed. The bronze-rated Australian kept his nose out of trouble as he steered his team’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 from a starting position of 16th to 11th – first in the Am class by some distance - as the driver change pit window opened 25 minutes into the 60-minute race.
Team boss Henk Kiks took the reins from Bilski and held his own amid the heavy traffic to take the flag 21st, third in the Am Cup to continue his team’s podium run. The Thai-based team followed their Am Cup win in round two of Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia with an outright victory and additional podium finish in last month’s Thailand Super Series, and now, a further class trophy in 2019 to add to the mantelpiece.
Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute’s Sun Jingzu had advanced two places from his starting position of 20th before handing the reins to Audi Sport Asia campaigner Cheng Congfu. Cheng pushed hard in the mid-pack, but eventually succumbed to a race-ending collision with a competitor.
Andre Couto’s raced faced the same outcome, albeit in different circumstances. He had taken over from the impressive David Chen and was running comfortably in sixth place, but was forced to retire with a technical issue in the dying moments of the race. It was a unfortunate end for the duo, who will be looking to bounce back in round four.
A little further back, Kantasak Kusiri had continued where teammate Bhirombhakdi had left off, slicing through the field to bring the Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS home in 10th, fifth in Pro/Am.
All eyes, though, were on Audi Sport Asia driver Martin Rump, who had taken over from Weiron Tan and was on the power. As the midrace driver change pit window closed with 25 minutes to go, the Estonian youngster was running third and was on the tail of his second-placed rival.
Unfortunately, just as Rump was lining up his move, a back-marker got between him and his rival, slowing the Estonian’s assault and serving to both relieve the pressure on the second-placed car ahead and also bring Rump under attack from the fourth-placed runner.
Rump battled well, diving past up the inside of the FIA gold-ranked back-marker, and once more piling the pressure onto the car in front whilst defending his hard-won third place. It was there he stayed, crossing the line for his team’s first podium of the season.
Round four gets underway on Sunday May 12 at 11:45 (UTC +7).