Inthraphuvasak and Imperatori beat JRM’s Liu and Van der Drift by 1.2s
Five crews still in GT3 title contention ahead of Shanghai finale
Team Studie’s Kinoshita and Jukuchou seal class title with GT4 victory
Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak remains a Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia title contender after he and Panther/AAS Motorsport co-driver Alex Imperatori scored their second victory of the season at the Korea International Circuit earlier today.
Their Porsche took the chequered flag 1.2s ahead of Anthony Liu and Chris van der Drift (JRM), while Yuan Bo’s late pass on Jefri Ibrahim helped the Absolute Racing entry he shares with Leo Ye Hongli to complete the overall podium.
Further back, BMW Team Studie’s Takayuki Kinoshita and Sunako Jukuchou wrapped up the GT4 class title with a round to spare by claiming their sixth victory of the season. Keo Chang and Joe Chi (Team iRace.Win), and Brian Lee and Tony Fong (GTO Racing with TTR) joined the Japanese duo on the podium.
However, GT3’s overall championship remains very much alive ahead of the final round in Shangai where a total of 50 points are still available across two more 60-minute races. MG Choi will head there as the favourite after adding a fourth place finish to yesterday’s victory, which has helped Solite Indigo Racing’s Mercedes-AMG amass a 12-point lead over Absolute Racing’s Tanart Sathienthirakul and Philip Hamprecht.
GT3: INTHRAPHUVASAK HUNTS DOWN IBRAHIM FOR WIN #2
Alex Imperatori and Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak’s victory was built on the latter’s successful pursuit of Jefri Ibrahim who slipped behind the Porsche with 10 minutes remaining.
The Johor prince’s lead owed much to co-driver Shane van Gisbergen who, having been gifted pole due to Craft-Bamboo’s five-place grid drop, set about dismantling the field during the first 35 minutes. The Kiwi’s fastest lap was 0.6s quicker than anyone else, while a succession of rapid times helped Triple Eight’s Mercedes-AMG eventually pit with a 14.1s advantage over Imperatori whose only opportunity to pass came at Turn 3 on lap one.
Ibrahim duly emerged from the pitstops with a sizeable advantage over Inthraphuvasak. However, the latter’s far greater experience allowed him to close in and pass the Mercedes-AMG, which then slipped into the clutches of Anthony Liu who’d transferred his prodigious pace from Saturday to Sunday.
The former race winner, who was making his debut with JRM and the Porsche this weekend, dispatched Ibrahim at Turn 3 but ran out of laps to catch Inthraphuvasak.
Next up was Yuan Bo whose co-driver Leo Ye Hongli ran third during the first stint. He found Ibrahim a tougher nut to crack before finally prising the door open with five minutes remaining. The Absolute Racing Porsche would go on to score Silver Cup victory as well as an overall podium.
The loss of three places in quick succession could have deflated Ibrahim. Instead, the Triple Eight driver was somehow galvanised by the experience just in time for championship contenders Yuya Sakamoto and MG Choi to arrive on his tail. Their respective co-drivers, Marcos Gomes and Manuel Metzger, had run fifth and sixth before the pitstops but initially dropped places as a result of the 10 and 15s Success Penalties incurred for finishing one-two yesterday.
And it was Ibrahim’s valiant defence that ultimately helped Choi make what could become a significant move in the context of this year’s title battle. Sakamoto would have cut the Korean’s advantage had he remained ahead but fell further behind when Choi relieved him of fifth with an opportunistic pass. The points difference then further increased when Choi took fourth from Ibrahim on the penultimate lap.
The Audi Sport Asia Team TSRT R8 shared by David Chen and Rahel Frey made progress in the second stint to finish seventh, while Tanart Sathienthirakul and Philip Hamprecht – who began the day four points behind – recovered from a pitlane start and five-second Success Penalty to salvage eighth.
One of those positions came at the expense of Weiron Tan and Martin Rump whose drive-through penalty for making contact with VSR’s Lamborghini foiled a near-certain victory. Their lack of a Success Penalty allied to Absolute’s early pitstop ensured Tan was pressuring Ibrahim for the lead when he was called in. As such, Audi’s only title contenders have slipped 47 points behind Choi with a maximum of 50 still available.
ABSSA Motorsport’s McLaren shared by Piti Bhirombhakdi and Keita Sawa completed the top-10, while Andrew Macpherson and Ben Porter scored their second Am Cup victory of the weekend.
But there was disappointment for VSR’s Alex Au and Frederik Schandorff who would have been podium contenders were it not for the contact with Tan that retired their Lamborghini.
GT4: STUDIE SEAL DRIVERS’ TITLE BEFORE SHANGHAI
BMW Team Studie’s Sunako Jukuchou and Takayuki Kinoshita wrapped up this year’s GT4 crown with a routine victory at Yeongam. The Japanese duo only had to finish ahead of rivals Setiawan Santoso and Ringo Chong to prevent iRace.Win’s crew from challenging at Shanghai.
The #111 Mercedes-AMG started on pole but, in a sign of things to come, immediately slipped behind Kinoshita. Second then became third when iRace.Win team-mate Joe Chi moved ahead just before the pit window opened after 25 minutes.
The same Mercedes-AMG then emerged from the driver changes ahead of Jukuchou who soon addressed the balance before pulling clear. Victory alone would have been sufficient to seal the crown, but Studie were further helped when their only mathematical challengers picked up a penalty for a short pitstop.
That helped GTO Racing with TTR’s Tony Fong and Brian Lee complete the podium after their Mercedes-AMG spent the second stint in third.
Shanghai hosts the final round of this year’s Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia campaign on September 27/28.