Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific customers Absolute Racing and Panther/AAS Motorsport head to the Shanghai finale of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia championship in contention for the drivers’ title.
Racing on the doorstep of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific’s headquarters at the Shanghai International Circuit, the overall, Silver and Pro-Am titles remain up for grabs amongst the Porsche 911 GT3 R competitors.
Having already secured the teams’ title in their first year with Porsche, Absolute Racing could add more glory to their season with the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia duo of Tanart Sathienthirakul and Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Young Professional Philip Hamprecht in the #911 car.
They head into the weekend second in the overall standings, just 12 points back, as well as in the Silver classification by eight points, making it all to play for with two races remaining.
Leo Ye Hongli and Yuan Bo, who celebrates his 32nd birthday on Tuesday, return in the sister #912 Porsche. As podium finishers last time out in Seoul, they aim for another strong result.
Going for the Pro-Am title is Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, with the help of his Panther/AAS Motorsport team-mate Alexandre Imperatori. The former leads by 33 points having taken two overall wins this year, most recently at the previous round in Yeongam, and four in class on board the #918 machine.
Imperatori is joint second in the standings after missing the Suzuka round. He has fond memories of the Shanghai circuit with multiple victories in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, including his 2012 championship-winning year.
Li Chao returns to the wheel of the #910 JRM Porsche 911 GT3 R for his home race with triple Carrera Cup Asia champion Chris van der Drift, who aims for a fifth Pro-Am podium after making it onto the overall rostrum in South Korea.
Japanese squad ARN Racing also makes a comeback after missing the previous round. 2017 Super Taikyu champion Hiroaki Nagai and 2019 Porsche Japan Junior Yuta Kamimura once again are at the helm of the #8 Porsche and will look to add to their tally of two Pro-Am victories in 2019.
Track action begins on Thursday with free practice at 13:40 (GMT+8), with a second one-hour session taking place at 09:00 on Friday. Qualifying will begin at 12:05 with race one at 16:15. The final race of the 2019 season will be underway on Saturday at 11:55.
Fabien Fior, Absolute Racing Team Manager: “At the last race in South Korea, Absolute Racing won the teams’ title. It was extremely emotional as the hard work we put in to achieve this goal paid off. But now the focus is on the last race in Shanghai as our drivers attempt to win the overall, Silver and Pro-Am categories. To win all three of these titles is a very hard task but we will do everything possible to obtain this great goal.”
Tanart Sathienthirakul, Absolute Racing: “As the race in Shanghai is the season finale, I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. Philip and I are second in the overall and Silver standings, so the pressure is not on us because we are going to be the hunters. By the end of the race we hope to be the ones on top. Together we have good knowledge of the Shanghai circuit so the performance should be strong.”
Philip Hamprecht, Absolute Racing: “The much-awaited season finale is here at last. We are in both the overall and Silver championship fights, but it’s going to be a tough one as the 12-point gap will be a challenge to overturn. As always, Tanart and I will give it our all to win for the team and Porsche. I’m sure my team-mate and I are capable of a good result in Shanghai as we both have strong experience at this circuit.”
Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, Panther/AAS Motorsport: “My goal is to win the Pro-Am and overall titles. It won’t be easy to secure both championships, but we will give it our all. In the Pro-Am class I have a healthy points advantage, but motorsport is unpredictable and anything can happen so you can never be complacent. The Shanghai International Circuit is a great venue, especially with the team’s experience at this track making it easier to set the car up, which is usually tough here. Our competitive form should carry over into this event to end the season on a high.”
Alexandre Imperatori, Panther/AAS Motorsport: “The final race of Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia is special as it is the home race for Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific. We are pushing to have a competitive weekend as both the overall and Pro-Am titles are at stake. Anything is possible in racing so there’s a chance of the overall title for us. I’m looking forward to the race and winning some trophies.”
Li Chao, JRM: “I didn’t participate in the last race in South Korea but Chris did a very good job with second overall, so there’s an additional 10-second success penalty during our pit stop. We will do the best we can to score another Pro-Am podium for my home race.”
Chris van der Drift, JRM: “For us this will be the first time in Shanghai with the Porsche 911 GT3 R this year. We did a one-off race there in 2018 but I’m looking forward to going with the new car and off the back of our podiums this year the goal is to go for a Pro-Am win. We might find the first race of the weekend a little more difficult due to the 10-second success penalty from the last round in South Korea. It’s great to be back with Li and we’re going to push to get the best result possible for the last race of the season.”
Hiroaki Nagai, ARN Racing: “We’ve had a strong year in the Porsche 911 GT3 R, and the aim is to round out the campaign with a competitive result. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel and on track.”
Yuta Kamimura, ARN Racing: “This has been my first year of Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia but now the final round is here. The Porsche 911 GT3 R is a great car with which we’ve scored two wins so far. Racing at the Shanghai International Circuit will be a new experience for me, but I will do my best to quickly adapt to the track.”
Alexandre Gibot, Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific: “We’ve seen consistently great performances so far this season from our customer teams and the new 2019-spec Porsche 911 GT3 R. I’m looking forward to seeing some good competition this weekend as we fight for the overall title, but also the Silver and Pro-Am classes. All the best to our five entries.”