Fuji summit conquered: Victory for Weiron Tan and Martin Rump

07/07/2019

  • Tan seizes Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia round eight lead in final lap thriller
  • Second podium of weekend breathes life into duo’s championship campaign
  • David Chen and Rahel Frey charge from 17th to fourth overall

Oyama, July 7, 2019 – Weiron Tan and Martin Rump reached Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia’s round eight podium summit, taking a memorable win in the shadow of Mount Fuji in Japan. The Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute duo delivered the win in dramatic fashion at Fuji Speedway. Tan moved from fifth to first place in the last 10 minutes of the one-hour race, seizing the outright lead with a move on the very last lap.

Tan and Rump’s first victory of the season builds on their second place in round seven to breathe new life into their championship campaign. The Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute drivers now sit fifth on the overall standings (80 points), 26 points from first with four races still to go.

“What we witnessed today was GT racing at its finest. The region’s leading marques and drivers delivering nail-biting racing with everything on the line. Weiron, Martin and Absolute Racing were on the pace all weekend and fully deserved the win today,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Another standout performance came from David Chen, Rahel Frey and TSRT with two top five finishes over the weekend. On we go to Korea.”

Audi Sport Asia Team TSRT’s David Chen and Rahel Frey put in an eye-catching performance, charging through the field to finish fourth overall from a starting position of 17th. The result rounds off a strong weekend from the pair after their fifth place finish in round seven.

Chen now sits 12th in the overall championship (43 points) two-thirds of the way through his first Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia season.

The weekend marked the series debut of X Works with team principle, long-time Audi partner and 2017 series Silver Cup champion Marchy Lee in attendance. The team’s GT-newcomer Philip Tang impressed amongst the experienced field, and was supported by teammate Shaun Thong, also a 2017 Silver Cup champion. The duo finished 14th overall, sixth in the Pro/Am class.

For the Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute pairing of Cheng Congfu and Sun Jingzu, they had a tough outing after being hit by two drive-through penalties. One was for contact with a competitor at the start of the race, while another was awarded late-race for abuse of track limits. That saw them cross the line 18th, eighth in Pro/Am.

Round eight

Rump in the #12 Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute entry lined-up at the iconic Fuji Speedway in the highest placed Audi R8 LMS in fifth. Teammate Cheng Congfu was 10th, while tough qualifying sessions for Audi Sport Asia Team TSRT’s Frey and X Works’ Thong saw them 17th and 18th respectively.

All four Audi R8 LMS GT3s got away well at the lights, with Rump holding fifth, Cheng up to sixth and Frey and Thong advancing a position apiece.

Rump kept in touch with the cars in front during his stint as the clock ticked towards the midrace driver change.

Just behind, Cheng was penalised for a move as he came through the field on the first lap and was hit with a drive-through penalty. That saw the Chinese Audi Sport Asia driver emerge from the pit lane near the rear of the GT3 field in 22nd position.

Both himself and partner Sun Jingzu fought well to recover, but a further late-race drive-through penalty put paid to any chance of a comeback.

At the midrace driver change, Philip Tang took over from Shaun Thong in the X Works entry and did well amongst a field of experienced GT campaigners to hold the 14th position he had inherited until the flag.

Up ahead though, things were getting very interesting indeed. Tan and Rump had lost positions during the pit stop, due to a ten-second success penalty for their second place in Saturday’s round seven. Tan emerged from the changeover and was immediately on the power, passing a competitor to move into seventh, then reeling in and passing the next two cars in quick succession to be back into fifth.

With just 16 minutes remaining the safety car was called out, circulating until returning to pit lane with 9 minutes of white-knuckled racing to play out. Suddenly, an outside podium chance for Tan had turned into an outside shot at the win.

Tan was away like a rocket at the restart, immediately up two places to third. As the clocked ticked down and seven minutes remained, Tan was all over the tail of the second placed car and took the position away with an excellent move round the outside.

With three laps of racing remaining Tan had just under two seconds to make up on the race leader. One lap later he was within striking distance, and lined his competitor up. On the 33rd and final lap of the race, Tan made his move, ducking out from the slipstream on the home straight to make a big move up the inside at turn one.

It had looked like the Malaysia had gone in too deep, and he was immediately back under attack for the position, but he held firm to pull away and take the flag for a win that will live long in the memory.

Just behind, David Chen had mounted a monumental assault advancing six positions after the race restart in the dying stages to cross the line fourth.

Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia is back on August 3-4 as the series makes its debut at the Korea International Circuit, South Korea for the penultimate event of the 2019 season.