Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific customers enjoyed a competitive and successful Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia round in Buriram, with Panther/AAS Motorsport scoring victory in race two, as Absolute Racing and JRM collected overall and class podium finishes across the weekend.
For round two of SRO’s premier Asian GT series, seven Porsche 911 GT3 R and one Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport (981) were in action at the Chang International Circuit, competing in the GT3 Pro-Am and Silver classes, as well as the GT4 category.
In qualifying one, OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia and Philippe Descombes scored an impressive maiden front row start with second overall. Behind were the two Absolute Racing entries, with the #912 of Yuan Bo and Jono Lester ahead of the #911 of Tanart Sathienthirakul and Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Junior Philip Hamprecht.
Despite carrying a 15-second pit stop time penalty from its Sepang victory, the #911 Absolute Racing Porsche remained in the podium battle in race one, with Hamprecht and Sathienthirakul producing fine drives to finish second. The #912 Absolute entry collected further points in fifth, losing some time during the pit stop phase, which denied Bo and Lester a top-three opportunity.
After qualifying 17th overall, the JRM-entered Porsche 911 GT3 R of three-time China GT runner-up duo Li Chao and Chris van der Drift fought through to claim another Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia trophy with third in Pro-Am and eighth overall.
OpenRoad Racing followed JRM home to take fourth in the Pro-Am class, with ARN Racing’s Hiroaki Nagai and Porsche Japan Junior Yuta Kamimura initially completing the top-10 overall, before a penalty dropped them outside the points.
Having qualified as the highest-placed Porsche for race two, Panther/AAS Motorsport’s Alexandre Imperatori battled for the lead during his stint, before Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak used his vast experience and speed to move into first place. The Thai ace pulled away from the opposition to score an emphatic victory in front of his home crowd and extend Absolute Racing’s lead in the teams’ championship
Meanwhile, OpenRoad Racing’s Tjia and Descombes completed a tremendous drive into the points, going from the back of the grid to seventh overall and fifth in Pro-Am, confirming their potential throughout the weekend.
The #911 Absolute Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R scored a point after impressively recovering to 10th having dropped well outside the points earlier. Sathienthirakul set stunning lap times, passing several cars in the final laps to finish 25 seconds behind the leaders, having been a lap down with just 15 minutes remaining.
Modena Motorsport improved throughout the weekend to claim a sixth-place finish in race two, with ARN Racing and JRM forced to retire. Absolute’s #912 Porsche was initially classified in second and first in the Silver class, but was disqualified from the result.
In GT4, the Racing Spirit Thailand-entered Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport (981), with its drivers Preeda Tantemsapya and Munkong Sathienthirakul, finished fifth in the second race on its return to the series.
The results mean Absolute Racing lead the overall teams’ standings by 46 points, with Hamprecht and Sathienthirakul third in the drivers’ championship. Imperatori and Inthraphuvasak are second in Pro-Am, and the #911 Absolute duo are also a close second in the Silver classification.
Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific will return to the Chang International Circuit in support of the Porsche customers contending the Thailand Super Series on 7-9 June. The next Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia round is Suzuka, Japan on 22-23 June.
Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, #918 Panther/AAS Motorsport: “First of all I have to say thanks to the team, who gave us a good car this weekend, and to Alex, who brought the car in nicely and in a very good position in race two. In my stint I managed to overtake two cars, but I didn’t expect the safety car. It didn’t really fit to our plan as we had a big gap. I had to focus to keep my pace at the end. The team is doing a great job, I’m feeling very comfortable with them and the car. Everything seems to work and we are on top of our game.”
Alexandre Imperatori, #918 Panther/AAS Motorsport: “I’m stoked that we managed to score victory in our home race and it’s great to come back strong after the misfortune on Saturday. We drove a very solid race and I would like to thank my team-mate for a great drive and the team for giving us a strong car throughout this round. Hopefully we can maximise the whole weekend in the future but we are definitely in the game.”
Yuan Bo, #912 Absolute Racing: “Of course, I’m disappointed for what has happened but we all know mistakes can happen. This was my first time on the podium in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia, and we really deserved it. My team-mate has done a great job and handed me the car in 10th place. I pushed hard, moving up eight positions to second place overall. The team gave me a very good car this weekend, and we look forward to continuing our efforts in the next round in Japan.”
Jono Lester, #912 Absolute Racing: “It was a shock to hear of our post-race exclusion, after such a complete performance by all the team in rising from 14th on the grid to the second step of the podium. Of course I’m disappointed – more so for Bo who drove like a rockstar in the closing stint. This just means we’ll just have to come back and go one better at Suzuka! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first weekend with Absolute Racing and don’t expect today’s result to impact on the future we can achieve together with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R.”
Alexandre Gibot, Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific, said: “Congratulations to the winners Panther/AAS Motorsport, and all the podium-scorers here in Buriram. The drivers and teams have evidently been working hard and have put in a superb job throughout the field. Every one of them had the potential to score points, which is great to see. Furthermore, it was great to welcome our customers from the Porsche Sprint Trophy Thailand for this weekend. Now we’re looking forward to the next one at Suzuka.”
Source. Porsche/Photo. Kan Kanchanavilai