Published on May 17th, 2017 | by Amirul Mukminin0
Back-to-back for Local Audi Star in Goldenport China GT Opener
After an emphatic victory in the opening round of the 2017 China GT Championship for Kings Racing star Xu Jia at Goldenport Circuit in Beijing, the Audi driver achieved the almost unthinkable against a world class field in round two, taking a second win in as many days in dominant fashion.
In the end despite epic drives from the likes of Chris van der Drift, Hiroki Yoshimoto, Martin Ragginger and Adderly Fong, there was nothing the international stars could do to prevent the Chinese driver from victory, not even the safety car could slow his charge to maximum points from the opening event.
Qualifying had netted the Bao Jin Long/Martin Ragginger FAW T2M Porsche combination pole position on Saturday morning, ahead of Bentley’s Adderly Fong/Vutthikorn Inthrapuvasak and team-mates Andrew Kim/Weiron Tan, Xu Jia only fifth fastest behind the Alex Au/Marchy Lee Audi Hong Kong R8 LMS GT3.
That didn’t deter the Chinese star though who was immediately into the fight for the lead off the line after an aggressive move down the inside into turn one, before forcing Audi’s Alex Au wide at turn two to follow race leader Inthrapuvasak through to turn three in second position.
Sadly for Au his race again ended early at turn seven in a fight for position with Andre Couto in the #23 Nissan GTR, Couto able to pull alongside the Audi on the run to the apex of the right hander, but the Nissan was unsighted by Au who moved across, the contact spinning him to the outside of the circuit and retirement.
Shortly afterwards the D2 Mercedes too returned to the gravel trap after contact with Li Chao under brakes at turn four, the impact spinning the Porsche driver, in the process the green and yellow AMG GT3 running deep into the gravel trap on the outside of the corner.
That brought out the safety car to recover the two vehicles, but by that stage Xu was already leading from Vutthikorn and Bao.
Off the restart Xu again powered away from the field, whilst behind him Couto made a monster move on the run down to turn one, taking both Bao and Vutthikorn in the one move, the Thai driver appearing shocked by the move as he struggled to hold on to third place.
Naoki Yokomizo was a man on a charge too, moving the Kings Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 into the top five to be monstering the tail of the battle for third between Vutthikorn and Bao ahead of their compulsory pit stops, with the second Kings Audi immediately behind.
Ultimately Xu led the field to the stop, the Chinese driver leaving pit lane with a lead of almost 20-seconds, and with a pace that would make victory for his rivals almost impossible without the introduction of a safety car which in the end, never came.
Chris van der Drift was the big mover at this stage, forging his way through to be on the tail of Japanese SuperGT star Hiroki Yoshimoto in the #99 FAW T2M Porsche, together with Adderly Fong and the charging Martin Ragginger – who had inherited third from Bao – the four cars created a fast moving freight train as they charged after Xu, but were only closing at a rate of one to two seconds per lap, not enough with ten minutes remaining in the race.
They did however manage to move through for the battle for second after taking both the #08 Kings Audi and Yuey Tan in the #23 Nissan for position.
Behind them Li Jiaqi was hanging on for a position in the top six, but he was forced to concede late in the race to Weiron Tan – who was working the #05 team back into contention after a back-marker forced team-mate Andrew Kim off the circuit ahead of the compulsory stop – and Melvin Moh, who like race one, was amongst the fastest drivers on track after taking over from team-mate Keong Wee.
Up front none of the four cars battling over second looked to be capable of improving their position, van der Drift taking to the lights to try and pressure Yokomizo but the experienced Japanese veteran was having nothing of it. His team-mate Ragginger though was determined to get past Adderly Fong and five minutes from home he made his move up the inside at turn 12. The experienced Hong Kong Bentley driver was not going to concede easily though, making the Austrian hold a tighter line as they negotiated the 180-degree turn, and that forced the rear of the #99 Porsche to step out as he looked for a balance between traction and acceleration, spinning Ragginger back to fifth place.
That made it three cars in the battle for second, with the result looking sealed as they began their final lap of Goldenport, but a lapped car soon played into van der Drift’s favour, the New Zealander’s patience paying off to be able to move up the inside of Yokomizo within sight of the flag to take second for the JRM team, with Fong crossing the line under the rear win of the #89 Porsche for fourth.
Ragginger crossed the line fifth ahead of Melvin Moh, Weiron Tan and Li Jiaqi. The two Spirit Z-Racing Nissans completed the top ten, ahead of the #08 Kings Audi and Xu Wei in the Kings Racing Ferrari 458.
As a result of his dual victories, Xu now leads the championship on 50 points, comfortably clear of the Bao/Ragginger combination on 28, with Fong/Vutthikorn just a single point behind in third.