Published on October 23rd, 2015 | by Subhash Nair0
The Pace is Hot in Thailand Ahead of the GT Asia Final
If you talk to the teams ahead of a GT Asia Series event, you receive the same casual banter about how little you can read from unofficial practice, however with the 2015 title on the line at Buriram in Thailand this weekend, Thursday’s two one-hour sessions at times more than resembled a qualifying race, with some very interesting results.
Ultimately the advantage on day one went to the Absolute Racing Bentley team, with all three of the thunderous Bentley Continental GT3s in the top five, with title challengers Keita Sawa and Adderly Fong leading the charge. In the end though, FFF Racing Team by ACM McLaren 650S GT3 drivers Andrea Caldarelli and Alvaro Parente split the three Bentleys, with all five separated by six tenths of a second, with second to Carlo Van Dam in sixth place, separated by just fifteen one hundredths of a second, such was the pace at the front of the field. Sure there were different strategies being played out. Some were circulating on older tyres (the #8 Sawa/Fong Bentley employing new tyres late in session two to set the benchmark time), whilst other teams elected to spend limited time with their ‘Pro’ drivers in the car to concentrate on getting their amateur driver up to speed.
For points leader Darryl O’Young, his ninth-placed best, just over a second off his title rivals clearly wasn’t an indication of what we’ll see in qualifying, as there was little fuss or concern down in the Craft-Bamboo Racing team garage. For the third team in the title battle, BBT Racing’s Anthony Liu and Davide Rizzo, they too were fairly casual during unofficial practice, however the team – along with Spirit of Race team-mates Jiang Xin and Max Wiser – had been to Buriram the week prior to the round to gain valuable laps and knowledge of the circuit.
One of the new teams into GT Asia that figured prominently during the two one-hour sessions, was the Reiter Vattana Lamborghini operation led by former F1 driver Tomas Enge, the Czech a regular at Buriram, and he is also the man who holds the fastest GT3 lap time on the 4.554-kilometre circuit; 1:32.960.
Friday will see a repeat of Thursday’s two one-hour practice sessions, with a third 30-minute session for ‘Bronze’ classified drivers, ahead of Saturday morning’s two 15-minute qualifiers and the opening 60-minute race on Saturday afternoon. With just 16 points separating the top three title contenders, there is plenty to play for this weekend, with a number of drivers expecting fireworks. With temperatures again expected to be clear and in the mid-30s, the heat will certainly be on at Buriram as we head towards the conclusion of the 2015 championship.