Making his debut as the first ever Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Young Professional, Philip Hamprecht, and his Absolute Racing team-mate Tanart Sathienthirakul, scored the 2019-spec Porsche 911 GT3 R’s first win in the opening Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia round in Sepang.
It was a Porsche 1-2-3 in both qualifying sessions, and in race two Porsche Carrera Cup Asia front-runner Sathienthirakul duelled with Vurtthikorn Inthraphuvasak in the Panther/AAS Motorsport #918 Porsche for the lead of the race, after a strong stint from Hamprecht that brought them up from fourth to second on his GT3 debut weekend.
The pairing of Alexandre Imperatori and Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia returnee Inthraphuvasak would make it a 1-2 finish for Porsche after coming ninth in race one.
This means that Absolute Racing holds the lead in both the teams’ and drivers’ standings ahead of the second round in Buriram, despite being denied a potential podium in race one when Santhienthirakul was taken out by another competitor.
JRM scored their maiden series Pro-Am podium with triple Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Chris van der Drift and Li Chao in race one, despite the difficulties of rain and a safety car-affected event. They scored ninth in race two ahead of the #912 Absolute Racing car, driven by Porsche Young Professional Dennis Olsen and former Porsche Carrera Cup Asia front-runner Yuan Bo, which scored fourth in Pro-Am in race one.
Modena Motorsports #16 entry was 11th in both races with John Shen and FIA World Endurance Champion Mathias Beche, while its second car running under the OpenRoad Racing name, being driven by Francis Tjia and Michael S, took two Am-Am podiums.
ARN Racing suffered a tricky race one, but reigning Super Taikyu champion Hiroaki Nagai and 2018 Porsche Japan Junior Yuta Kamimura recovered to 12th in race two.
Philip Hamprecht, Absolute Racing, said: “The weekend was quite good for us in the end. I felt we could even have been in the top three in qualifying but I just missed that second lap because of traffic. But no excuses and sixth was still a great start for us. Race one was a bit unfortunate as it was a bit messy with the rain, but in the end we still got some good points. We saw that we are definitely one of the quickest cars out there and we can go for wins. Obviously now we have a 15-second penalty for Buriram race one because of the win, we’ll see how we manage that but full focus on the next race in three weeks.”
Tanart Sathienthirakul, Absolute Racing, said: “First of all I would like to thank the team for their preparation for this race. Overall, I’m super happy for us. It’s the first win for the new Porsche 911 GT3 R, which is pretty awesome. The whole weekend for me was a bit up and down because race one was very unlucky. I was in second place and someone spun me round and the safety car came out just too late, so we couldn’t do much then. But me and Philip did a good job.”
Dennis Olsen, Absolute Racing, said: “It was a mixed weekend for us. We started really well with the first pole position for the new Porsche 911 GT3 R. We had a good first stint in the second race and despite having to deal with a lot of traffic, our pace was very strong again. The car has been fantastic all weekend, the team has prepared it really well.”
Yuan Bo, Absolute Racing said: “It was the first weekend for me in Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia. Dennis [Olsen] and I did a good job in practice and qualifying. I was learning the new-generation Porsche 911 GT3 R car and in the end everything was good. I hope I can still improve my driving and thanks to Dennis who taught me a bit as well.”
Chris van der Drift, JRM, said: “At the start I got really boxed out and on couple of occasions had to fight back through, but we had the pace and I could just chip away and pass one car at a time and that was good and moved back ahead. We just ran out of time really. When we came out of the pits we were third overall, Li was second in class and I thought we would have a podium but it wasn’t to be. Still, it was a good performance, given the pace of the teaser run in Shanghai last year. Now we come here and have two points finishes and a podium. I think on that side it’s very positive. I’m looking forward to Buriram where we should be as much on the pace as we were in Sepang.”
Alexandre Gibot, Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific, said: “What an incredible way to start the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia season. A first win for the 2019-spec Porsche 911 GT3 R was always going to be special, but it being one of our Asian customer cars makes it all the more special. Our customers performed well and our cars showed pace during the weekend. Buriram will be exciting for us going in with Absolute Racing as the championship leaders.”