Published on June 12th, 2016 | by Amirul Mukminin0
The GT Asia Series Action ‘Heats Up’ in Thailand
The action was hot at Chang International Circuit during official practice for the second event of the 2016 GT Asia Series season, the battle for bragging rights as the fastest team of the day almost as intense as the ambient and track temperatures.. During the peak of session two, ambient temperature peaked at just under 38 degrees, whilst track temperature crept up to 50..
In the car the drivers were feeling the heat, with cabin temperatures well in excess of 60 degrees, but despite the challenge and the impact it had on pace in the heat of the midday sun, the closing session in the ‘cool’ of the afternoon, saw times begin to fall as drivers ignored comfort and went after the top spot.
Ultimately no-one – not even the man himself – could get close to Duncan Tappy’s 2015 pole time of 1:32.438, but they put on a hell of a show, with all five marques within half a second of each other as the clock wound down.
In the end it was Tappy who emerged fastest in the black and magenta #9 Bentley Team Absolute machine, ahead of Bentley Team Absolute team-mate Adderly Fong who had opened the ledger for the day as the fastest man in session one. Sadly the pace-setting #7 Bentley was beached during session two as team-mate Andrew Kim explored the limits, fortunately without damage to the car.
Rising Italian stars Andrea Amici and Edoardo Liberati in the FFF Racing Team by ACM Lamborghini Huracan were next, the two impressive youngsters hauled into race control post-session three for a discussion about track limits, with warnings to drivers earlier in the day that officials would clamp down on cars who started to ‘explore’ track limits. There were no penalties applied, however the Race Director made no secret in driver’s briefing that penalties would apply as soon as qualifying began.
Behind them by just over a tenth of a second were points leader Jonathan Venter and his new German team-mate Fabian Hamprecht, ahead of the always threatening Anthony Liu and Davide Rizzo (BBT Ferrari 488 GT3) and South Korean pole-sitters Marchy Lee and Shaun Thong (Phoenix Racing Asia Audi R8 LMS GT3) – these three teams separated by just two tenths of a second. It was close..
Recent Nurburgring 24-Hour class winner Carlo Van Dam was right in the thick of the action in the Singha Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia, the talented Dutchman in the end just a tenth slower than the 488 GT3 of Liu and Rizzo and just eight one hundredths slower than the gold Audi.
The two Craft-Bamboo Racing Porsches being further down the order was perhaps the biggest surprise, and whilst just half a second off the lead pack, they looked to be focused on the big picture later in the day, working on race strategy as their rivals battled over position.
The experienced Hong Kong based team through will no doubt have something up their sleeve for qualifying which will happen during cooler temperatures early on Saturday morning.
Ultimately the two Craft-Bamboo machines were split by the GruppeM Racing Porsche of Tim Sugden and young English star George Richardson who became a late replacement for car owner Philip Ma.
In the battle for GTC class honours, the day very much went the way of Aekrat Discharoen in the A Motorsport Porsche during the opening two sessions, before the two Singha Motorsport Ferrari 458 Challenge cars worked their way to the top in the closing stages of session three, Kantasak Kusiri putting the #59 Singha Plan-B Motorsport car to the top, mere tenths clear of Voravud Bhirombhakdi and Tin Sritra in the sister car.