Malagamuwa takes GT Asia Series first win of the season

Published on May 31st, 2011

It was a thrilling end to the opening race for the 2011 GT Asia Series at the Asian Festival Of Speed where defending champion Dilantha Malagamuwa took the victory for Sri Lanka.

It was not an easy race as second placed Tunku Hammam Sulong had a strong qualifying session and took pole position; a position he held on to for most of the race. The duo kept close to one another and were at some points separated by just a tenth of a second.

By the end of the third lap, the two had pulled a comfortable five second gap from the third car and an astonishing twenty second gap over the rest of the field! Although the two were door-to-door at the corners, the straightline speed of the Arrows Racing Lamborghini LP560 GT3 of Hammam proved to be too much for the Lamborghini of Malagamuwa of Dilango Racing.

Seeing this, Team Dilango Racing took the battle to the pits by pulling Malagamuwa into the pits first, and got him out onto the track in just 75 seconds. Hammam followed a few laps later but a faulty timer held him up in the pits. Hammam went back out on track in second place, sixteen seconds behind Malagamuwa. The gap proved to be too big to close and the race ended with Malagamuwa in first and Hammam second.

Eddie Yau of Asia Racing Team took third place in his Porsche GT3R.

Commenting on the race, Malagamuwa said he feels “on top of the world for getting back on the top step of the podium.”

He went on to comment, saying that he “could not overtake Hammam as he has upgraded his car. We were side by side in the corners but he got away on the straights. I knew the only way to get him was in the pits, so I drove faster in the pit entry to gain one or two seconds there. The next time I drove around I saw my crew dancing and waving so I knew I had overtaken Hammam, then I saw him behind me and that just confirmed it.”

Speaking about the race, Hammam said, “we bungled the pit stops. I had a timer in the car but the team timer was wrong so I lost time there. Initially the race was great, I had a great battle with Dilantha, but there was nothing I could do. It was a long race and I was leading for most of the race but at the end there was nothing I could do. We were all at around the same pace.”

In the GT4 class, Team Concorde Absolute Racing took a clean sweep of the first two steps of the Podium with Australian driver Mark Williamson taking the top step and Simon Waters of Singapore taking the second. Both drivers raced their Aston Martin Vantage N24 and basically outclassed the field. Taking the final step of the podium was S&D Motorsports also in an Aston Martin Vantage N24. The car was shared between Frank Yee and the 2010 GT4 Champion, Daniel Bilski.

Mark Williamson said about the race, “It was a great race. We won; it’s always nice to win. The Concorde Aston Martin performed flawlessly. It was interesting at the opening of the race, I got tangled with some of the other GT cars, but pretty soon I pulled away and opened a good gap. After a while I just backed off a bit and got comfortable.”

Waters echoed Williamson’s comments but added that “It was a fantastic race with great cars and great drivers. The series is looking to be pretty interesting. I had a gearbox problem yesterday but the team worked overnight on it and it worked great. So thanks to the team and thanks to Mark for teaching me how to do this.”

Commenting about the race, Bilski who started the race said that the team had some problems with the car as it was misfiring, but the team solved it as it was just a couple of faulty spark plugs.

“We didn’t have a great start at the race thanks to a few traffic issues, and some controversial bits and pieces. But it was certainly fun to be right up in the corners with the GT3 cars, I don’t know how many, but it was fun being right in the middle of it, I don’t know how many cars there were but it was fun.

“We lost some time dealing with the backmarkers but eventually made up ground.”

Frank Yee drove after Bilski, but he was subjected to a pit lane penalty as he left the pit lane too fast.

“We will work to solve this problem in the future for sure. Its wonderful to be driving with the 2010 Champion, there’s much to learn and we are working with the driver change. We look forward to tomorrow’s race.”

The GT Asia Series is supported by Michelin tyres, Graham London and Auto Art. The Series is organised by Motorsport Asia and Supercar Club Hong Kong.

The 2011 Asian Festival Of Speed will feature three FIA Sanctioned Series, the JK Racing Asia Series, GT Asia and the Asian Touring Car Series.

It will also be the fourth year that the Asian Festival Of Speed has opened its doors, and the grandstand, to members of Car Clubs from around the Region for their AFOS Car Club Gathering. This year the gathering is once again organised by the guys from trafficmagonline.com.

Racing fans will also be given a unique chance to get up close to the AFOS Angels when for the first time, the opening ceremony will be held simultaneously as the pit-walkabout right at the paddock.

words & pix: Motorsport Asia

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