A fourth and a second place finish in the fifth and sixth round of the GT Asia Series at Fuji has kept Asia Racing Team’s rising star Li Zhi Cong in the lead of the Drivers’ Championship. Hong Kong racer Sasha Chu made a solo comeback in Japan with the team.
Saturday’s Qualifying ended without surprises. The #9 Yumin Restaurant Porsche 911 GT3 R, the car with the most success ballast on the grid, qualified P5 for Saturday’s Race 1 and P6 for Sunday’s Race 2. Teammate Chu meanwhile qualified sixteenth for both races.
Li had an interesting outing, managing to climb to third from fifth at the first corner right at the start of Round 5. Then he maintained his position all the way to the pit-stop session, after which he made a mistake, spinning the car at turn 7 immediately dropping down to fifth. The Guangzhou native just never gave up, reclaiming fourth towards the end of the race.
Chu had a much less eventful race than Li, and enjoyed a reasonably comfortable ride finishing where he started, in sixteenth.
Race 2 saw Li having a little touch with the 997 GT3 R of Hisao Shigeta at the start as cars bunched up for the first turn. Li recovered to rejoin the race and with 70kg less weight in the second race, Li quickly moved up to second overall before the compulsory pit stop.
Another astonishing performance by Asia Racing Team’s pit crew saw Li claiming first place after the stops. The battle for victory was and extremely exciting affair, right at the end, Mok Weng Sun in the Ferrari 458 GT3, who led for most of the race, hit Li’s car. Fortunately Li managed to rejoin in P3 and a stunning manoeuvre at the end saw him taking second from Jeffrey Lee in the Audi R8 LMS Ultra.
Reflecting on the race weekend, Li said, “It was my first time in Fuji and I didn’t have much sessions to test the car. I am very happy to go back home leading the drivers’ championship with five trophies in my bag. The second race was good and exciting. I learnt a lot from it, especially how to handle the GT cars in the wet.”
Team Manager Philippe Descombes, added, “Not a bad weekend at all. We arrived in Fuji with the maximum success ballast and 30 kg extra from the new BOP, making the car heavier by 150 kg. It was hard to find the right setup for qualifying and we had to do a few changes to make the car suit Li’s driving style. We were nine points ahead going into this event, and we left Fuji with 13 points in the lead.”
Chu did not finish the Race 2 as he was black flagged for a pit stop window infringement.
Li now leads the Championship, heading into the last three events with a 13-point lead. The next races of the GT Asia Series will remain in Japan and held in four weeks time, from 17th to 19th August 2012, at Suzuka International Circuit.
Asia Racing Team is proudly partnered by Michelin, Pakelo Motor Oil and Galuppo Racewear.
Prepared by www.art-motorsports.com