A fourth and a second place finish in the fifth and sixth round of the GT Asia Series at Fuji has kept Asia Racing Team rising star Li Zhi Cong in the lead of the Drivers’ Championship. Hong Kong racer Sacha Chu made a solo comeback in Japan.
Saturday’s Qualifying ended without surprises. The most-ballasted car on the grid, the #9 Yumin Restaurant Porsche 911 GT3 R, qualified P5 for Saturday’s Race 1 and P6 for Sunday’s Race 2. Teammate Sasha Chu meanwhile qualified sixteenth twice.
Li had an interesting outing, managing to climb to third from fifth at the first corner at the start of the Race 1. Then he maintained his position all the way to the pit-stop session, after which he made a mistake and spun the car at turn 7 dropping down to fifth. The Guangzhou native just never gave up and got back the fourth place towards the end.
Chu had a much less eventful race than Li, and enjoyed a reasonably comfortable ride to sixteenth.
Race 2 saw Li having a little touch with Shigeta at the start. With 70kg less weight in the second race, Li quickly moved up to second overall before the compulsory pit stop. Another astonishing performance of Asia Racing Team pit crew would let Li in the first place. The battle for the victory was as exciting as it could possibly get and the previous race leader hit Li’s 911 GT3 R. Fortunately he rejoined in P3 and managed to get second right at the end of the race.
Reflecting on the race weekend, Li Zhi Cong said, “It was my first time at Fuji and I didn’t have much sessions to test the car. I am very happy to go back home leading the drivers’ championship with five trophies in my bag. The Race 2 was good and exciting. I learnt a lot from it, especially how to handle the GT cars in the wet.”
Team Manager Philippe Descombes, added, “Not a bad weekend at all. We arrived in Fuji with the maximum success ballast and 30 kg extra from the new BOP, making the car heavier by 150 kg. It was hard to find the right setup for qualifying and we had to do a few changes to make the car suit Li’s driving style. We were nine points ahead going into this event, and we left Fuji with 13 points in the lead.”
Chu did not finish the Race 2 as he was black flagged for a pit stop window infringement.
Li now leads the Championship, heading into the last three events with a 13-point lead. The next races of the GT Asia Series will be held in four weeks time, from 17th to 19th August 2012, at Suzuka.
words & pix: Asia Racing Team