FastLane

THONG AND LEE CLAIM VICTORY FOR AUDI HONG KONG IN JAPAN

27 June 2017

Text/Photos: Motorsport Media

Rnd#5/6 2017 Blancpain GT Series Asia

Suzuka International Circuit, Japan

24 June, 2017

AudiHK_Suzuka_R1_Thong_Lee_podium_win_2_240617_BL_med AudiHK_Suzuka_P2_Shaun_Thong_1_230617_SH  

Audi Hong Kong’s Shaun Thong broke through for his maiden Blancpain GT Series Asia victory at Suzuka in Japan, the 21-year old Audi driver decimating the opposition over the closing laps to win by a staggering 16.5-seconds to hand he, and team-mate Marchy Lee, the championship points lead after five rounds of the new season.

Using the experience he’d gained from the Audi R8 LMS Cup round just two weeks ago, the Cup race lap record holder at Suzuka was amongst the pace-setters during practice at the iconic home of the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix, but like his experienced team-mate, was unable to extract the best of the car during qualifying.

Starting from third position on the grid, Lee though was quickly through to the lead before the close of the opening lap, extending the advantage to more than six seconds before his compulsory mid-race pit stop. With a seven second additional penalty for placing second last time out in Thailand, Thong rejoined the field after the stop just as the race leader filed past the pit exit, but within a handful of corners, the Phoenix Racing Asia driver was through to the lead.

From there he set a sequence of laps as the fastest driver on the circuit to pull away from the emerging battle for second, ultimately claiming the second fastest lap of the race, and a comfortable race victory.

“It feels amazing, finally I have my first win of the year. I feel like I’ve been waiting a long time, but I’m really happy with the result. Marchy did a fantastic job at the start to hand me the car in the best possible position, so my job was to hold that position and try to extend the lead, and I think I managed to do that pretty well. It’s a fantastic result considering we started from P3, but we both fought well and drove well, so it’s a great win for the team for all their efforts.

“It certainly wasn’t easy, especially after the pit-stop, because with an additional seven seconds over most of the field, I had no idea where I’d exit pit lane and in what position. As I left pit road my engineer told me I was second behind the Porsche, but I knew I’d be able to find a way past pretty quickly, which was the real key to the win – after  I got past him I could carry much better pace and from there run away to the flag.”

“Tomorrow [race two] will be a big challenge, especially with a ten second pit stop penalty for having won today, but we have good pace, so we will push hard to maximize our position and look to leave Suzuka with the championship lead still intact!”

Round six of the championship begins at 11:30am (JST) on Sunday (25 July), and you can follow it LIVE from Suzuka online through http://www.blancpain-gt-series.com

Suzuka International Circuit, Japan (24 June, 2017)

Qualifying #1 (15-minutes)

  1. 99. Darryl O’Young (Porsche GT3-R) – 2:02.982
  2. 86. Aditya Patel (Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 2:03.084
  3. 5. Marchy Lee (Audi Hong Kong Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 2:03.534
  4. 66. Sandy Stuvik (Lamborghini Huracan GT3) – 2:03.598
  5. 999. Hunter Abbott (Mercedes AMG GT3) – 2:04.002

Qualifying #2 (15-minutes)

  1. 7. Alessio Picariello (Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 2:01.851
  2. 86. Mitch Gilbert (Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 2:02.230
  3. 13. Franky Cheng (Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 2:02.264
  4. 18. Martin Rump (Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 2:02.395
  5. 999. Max Goetz (Mercedes AMG GT3) – 2:02.482
  6. 5. Shaun Thong (Audi Hong Kong Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 2:02.573

Suzuka International Circuit, Japan (24 June, 2017)

Rnd#5 2017 Blancpain GT Series Asia (60-minutes)

  1. 5. Lee/Thong (Audi Hong Kong Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 28-laps
  2. 88. Modell/Foster (Porsche GT3-R) +16.553
  3. 86. Patel/Gilbert (Audi R8 LMS GT3) +24.202
  4. 99. O’Young/Li (Porsche GT3-R) +26.412
  5. 38. Guedes/Aguas (Ferrari 488 GT3) +27.505

2017 Blancpain GT Series Asia

Championship Points (after five rounds of 12)*

  1. Shaun Thong/Marchy Lee (86-points), 2. Mitchell Gilbert/Aditya Patel (73), 3. Hunter Abbott (71) *unofficial