Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak resisted late pressure from Yuan Bo to claim his and Panther/AAS Motorsport team-mate Alex Imperatori’s maiden Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia victory on home soil at Buriram today.
The two Porsches took the chequered flag 0.9s apart after a late Safety Car period helped Absolute Racing’s Bo close in. However, he and Jono Lester were denied a podium when their car was found to be underweight post-race.
That promoted HubAuto Corsa’s Yuya Sakamoto and Andre Heimgartner to second, while TSRT’s David Chen and Andre Couto ensured two Chinese teams finished in the top-three.
In GT4, BMW Team Studie’s Takayuki Kinoshita and Sunako Jukuchou took victory by only 0.4s from GTO Racing with TTR’s Tony Fong and Brian Lee who just missed out on a first series win.
GT3: INTHRAPHUVASAK AND IMPERATORI WIN A RACE OF TWO HALVES
If ever there was a race of two halves then this was surely it. Craft-Bamboo’s pole-sitter Alessio Picariello had established a seven-second lead over the three-way battle for second featuring Triple Eight’s Jazeman Jaafar, Imperatori and JRM’s Chris van der Drift by the time all four pitted at mid-distance.
The two Mercedes-AMGs and two Porsches then converged once their respective Ams climbed aboard. However, AAS’s decision to pit a lap earlier meant Inthraphuvasak was up to speed by the time the others re-joined, which proved decisive when taking second from Jefri Ibrahim.
The quartet was then halved when Picariello’s co-driver Jeffrey Lee collided with Ibrahim exiting Turn 3, which sent the Triple Eight Mercedes-AMG spinning. That also left Inthraphuvasak out front ahead of a charging Bhurit Bhirombhakdi and Li Chao, whose own chances faded when the JRM Porsche stopped with little more than 10 of the 60 minutes left.
Meanwhile, Silver-graded Bo had been busy picking off the Am drivers and was up to second by the time a Safety Car period was required to deal with Chao’s stranded 911, slashing Inthraphuvasak’s lead from 10 seconds to two. Bo duly closed in on his Thai rival once racing resumed with five minutes remaining but was powerless to prevent a popular home victory.
The #912 Porsche’s subsequent exclusion handed second overall and Silver Cup honours to HubAuto Corsa’s Heimgartner and Sakamoto who, having pitted from 12th, also enjoyed a strong second stint.
It was a similar story behind for TSRT’s Audi crew of Chen and Couto who made amends for yesterday’s late retirement by scoring a deserved overall podium despite pitting from 16th. Chen took the chequered flag just 0.7s behind Sakamoto.
VSR’s Lamborghini driven by Frederik Schandorff and Alex Au came through to claim their best finish so far in fourth, while MG Choi and Manuel Metzger overcame their 15s Pitstop Success Penalty for winning yesterday’s race to follow the Huracan home. The result for Solite Indigo Racing’s Mercedes-AMG ensured five different manufacturers finished inside the top-five and that Choi retained his overall championship lead.
Singha Plan-B’s Bhirombhakdi and Kantasak Kusiri finished third in Pro/Am after beating OpenRoad Racing’s Philip Descombes and Francis Tjia to sixth overall. The Porsche finished ahead of Craft-Bamboo’s #99 Mercedes-AMG, which was handed a 40s post-race penalty for an insufficient pitstop time.
That promoted ABSSA Racing’s McLaren to eighth despite Keita Sawa’s spin on lap one, while Am Cup winners Daniel Bilski and Henk Kiks finished an impressive ninth overall in their B-Quik Audi. Absolute’s Tanart Sathienthirakul and Philip Hamprecht completed the top-10.
GT4: STUDIE RESIST TTR
BMW Team Studie resisted Brian Lee’s late-race charge to win the GT4 class at Buriram after overcoming a 10s Pitstop Success Penalty, while Craft-Bamboo’s Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin added a third place to yesterday’s victory by passing Team iRace.Win’s #111 Mercedes-AMG on the final lap.
Ringo Chong started on pole but was immediately pushed back to third by Sunako Jukuchou and Merlin. The trio circulated together for much of the opening stint before the BMW and Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG’s respective 10 and 15s Pitstop Success Penalties plus the late Safety Car brought Lee’s TTR Mercedes-AMG back into contention.
Indeed, Lee was right behind Kinoshita when the pair took the chequered flag, while Yu finished three seconds further back and only 0.1s ahead of Setiawan Santoso.
Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia now moves on to Suzuka for the first of two Japanese rounds in three weekends on June 22/23.