Stuvik claims VSR and Lamborghini’s maiden pole for Race 1
Three poles in four attempts for Picariello but just 0.094s covers Race 2 top-three
HubAuto’s Chong and Craft-Bamboo’s Merlin claim GT4 spoils
VSR’s Sandy Stuvik will start this weekend’s first Blancpain GT Series Asia race from pole position after dominating a wet Q1 at Shanghai earlier today. Alessio Picariello maintained his fantastic qualifying form to grab a third Race 2 pole in four outings, while HubAuto Racing’s Ringo Chong and Craft-Bamboo’s Jean-Marc Merlin shared the GT4 spoils.
Q1: SUPERB STUVIK UNSTOPPABLE AT SHANGHAI
Lamborghini’s Huracan has already proven its wet weather prowess this year but Sandy Stuvik underlined it again at Shanghai by claiming a comfortable pole for this afternoon’s first 60-minute race of the weekend.
The Thai driver lowered the provisional pole mark three times during the first 15-minute session in which conditions only improved slightly from start to finish. His ultimate best of 2m19.295s was good enough to beat debutant Leo Ye, whose HubAuto Racing Porsche - also making its first Blancpain GT Series Asia appearance - jumped from nowhere to second in the final stages.
OD Racing’s Mitch Gilbert initially vied with Stuvik for pole but couldn’t find the same improvements late on. His Audi therefore heads up row two alongside Silver Cup and overall championship rival Marchy Lee who, just like the Malaysian, will be hoping to capitalise on points leader Hunter Abbott starting 11th.
Darryl O’Young was another driver to make the early running before slipping to fifth in the first of Craft-Bamboo’s Porsches. The team’s second 991 GT3R starts directly alongside courtesy of Nick Foster.
Aidan Read, Alex Au and Tim Sugden completed a top-nine that, not surprisingly given the conditions, solely comprised Silver Cup crews. KCMG by Champion Racing’s Rick Yoon was therefore fastest of the Pro/Am pairings in 10th after besting Abbott by 0.6s.
Am Cup pole went to FFF Racing Team by ACM’s Zhu Junhan who beat James Cai’s CMRT Eurasia Aston Martin by just 0.2s.
GT4 was closer still with Ringo Chong’s HubAuto Racing Porsche seeing off the similar Craft-Bamboo-run Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR driven by Frank Yu by 0.087s. Collectively, the pair were 1.6s clear of Keo Chang in third.
Q2: PICARIELLO LEADS TOP-THREE SEPARATED BY LESS THAN A TENTH
Alessio Picariello wrapped up the Audi R8 LMS Cup title at Shanghai two weeks ago and maintained that form in Q2 by notching up his third Blancpain GT Series Asia pole in four outings.
Since missing Sepang’s season opener the Belgian has only failed to top a Q2 timesheet at Fuji. And the J-Fly by Absolute Racing ace certainly earned this one after leading a top-three split by less than one tenth.
Martin Rump’s wet and dry free practice form suggested he would be right in the mix and, sure enough, it was the KCMG by Champion Racing Audi that led after the first round of flying laps. Picarrielo was only 0.015s slower, though, and duly lowered the benchmark to 2m18.552s next time around. Further improvement wasn’t necessary.
Instead it was Alex Yoong who gatecrashed the party late on by pushing Rump down to third. The Audi R8 LMS Cup entry was just 0.047s slower than Picariello’s time but, crucially, also the same amount under Rump’s best.
Franky Cheng looked like a top-five candidate throughout and ultimately ended up fourth after edging out Craft-Bamboo’s debutant and leading Silver Cup entry Marvin Dienst. OD Racing’s Aditya Patel yo-yoed between fourth and sixth before qualifying in the latter position, while Shaun Thong saved his best for last by stealing seventh from Earl Bamber late on.
Devon Modell and Adderly Fong - the Hong Kong driver making his, Bentley Team Absolute’s and the Continental GT3’s championship debut this weekend - completed the top-10.
But there was disappointment for Drivers’ and Teams’ championship leaders GruppeM Racing whose Mercedes-AMGs could only manage 12th and 13th overall. That sets up the thrilling prospect of both cars carving their way through the field tomorrow.
David Tjiptobiantoro’s final flying lap lifted his T2 Motorsports Ferrari to the head of the Am Cup times and 0.4s faster than Lin Yue, whose FFF Racing team-mate had earlier claimed pole for Race 1.
In GT4, championship rivals Eric Lo and Jean-Marc Merlin battled for class honours before the latter secured top spot by less than two tenths. The Craft-Bamboo and EKS Motorsports Porsches were comfortably clear of the rest.
Blancpain GT Series Asia’s first race of the weekend starts at 16:15 local time. Watch it live on the championship’s website and Facebook page, as well as SRO’s GT World Youtube channel. Local fans can also watch the race with Chinese commentary across more than 20 national live streaming platforms, including Douyu, Toutiao, Iqiyi, Beijing Time, Octopus TV, Quanmin TV, Zaker, Huajiao and Hi Sports.
SHANGHAI PITSTOP SUCCESS PENALTIES (RACE 1)
10s - Abbott/Buhk - #999 GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3
05s - Lee/Thong - #5 Audi Hong Kong R8 LMS GT3
07s - Chong/Kan - #89 HubAuto Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR
05s - Yu/Merlin - #77 Craft-Bamboo Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR