Xu Jia and Alessio Picariello of KINGS have taken two impressive wins at rounds seven and eight of the China GT Championship at the Shanghai International Circuit. The double-victory maintains the team’s astonishing record at the series in 2018, having won all eight rounds with the Audi R8 LMS GT3. Six of those victories belong to Xu Jia, with the Chinese privateer and reigning series champion extending his lead at the top of the GT3 championship.
With four races to go, Xu Jia sits atop the GT3 championship on 150 points, 33 points ahead of his nearest rival. Teammate Picariello is now third overall on 100 points with four race wins.
In the GTC class, Jeffrey Zee and Jason Zhang marked a strong first outing in the series in 2018, taking their Eagle Eyed Racing Audi R8 LMS Cup car to third in class in Saturday’s round seven, then fourth in class in Sunday’s round eight.
Starting from third on the grid and carrying a hefty 50kg of success ballast courtesy of their round six victory in Beijing, Xu took the opening stint in the #1 KINGS Audi R8 LMS GT3. As the lights went to green, the championship leader was immediately on the attack, making an early move on the outside into turn one. With the door shut by his rival, a few laps later a wheel-perfect dive on the inside saw Xu go second on the order and set off on the hunt for the race lead. Just as Xu stormed through to first, simultaneously, the safety car was called out and the experienced Chinese driver dutifully handed back the lead.
Ten minutes before the pit window opened, the safety car released the field and, lights ablaze, Xu resumed his attack, diving on the inside at turn six to seize the lead and immediately pulling away from his rivals.
Handing the wheel and the race lead to Picariello, with the bit firmly between his teeth, the reigning Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup champion continued team KINGS’ dominance. The Belgian was untouchable on his run to the flag, sailing across the line 8.243 seconds ahead of his closest challenger.
In the GTC class, Jason Zhang took the opening stint for the #98 Eagle Eyed Racing Team Audi R8 LMS Cup. From the fourth row of the grid, and third in the GTC category, Zhang initially dropped down the order but quickly began a spirited fight back. Zee continued the charge at the halfway point, climbing up the order to seventh overall by the flag and taking a class podium finish in third.
Xu started round eight from pole courtesy of his round seven win, but also, once again laden with 50 kg of ballast. As the lights went green, he did not get away as he would have wanted, falling to fourth by turn one.
Showing the pace that has taken him to the top of the championship, Xu was immediately back on the offensive, diving past his competitors to be back up to second by the end of the first lap.
There he stayed until the midrace driver changeover, with Picariello emerging from the pit lane with the dual task of holding off the hard charging rival on his tail and closing the gap that had opened to the car in first.
He accomplished both superbly, intermittently defending his position while reeling in the race leader, who he got by with just under 20 minutes of the 60 minute-race remaining.
Although pushed all the way to the flag, Picariello was never truly threatened, keeping himself safely ahead of his rival lap after lap with a wheel-perfect stint amid some tricky traffic to take another victory with the Audi R8 LMS.
In the GTC class, Zee started seventh overall, but had fallen to 12th after five minutes of racing. However, the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup driver fought back well as did his teammate Zhang to take the flag ninth, fourth in class.