Takuya Shirasaka and Naoto Takeda have won the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Asia Am Cup title in their Audi R8 LMS. KCMG’s Japanese driver team claimed the championship after crossing the line second in class at round 10 of the series at the Shanghai International Circuit in China. The title win follows an astonishing run in 2018 which has seen them top the class podium on eight occasions and win the championship with two races still remaining.
The KCMG champions were denied a ninth class win by fellow Audi pairing and 2018 series debutants Bhurit Bhirombhakdi and Sun Jingzu of Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing, who topped the Am Cup podium after a great comeback drive.
The highest finishing Audi R8 LMS in round 10 was that of Absolute Racing’s Cheng Congfu and Martin Rump. The Audi Sport Asia drivers fought hard and just narrowly missed the podium by seven-tenths of a second, taking the flag fourth overall and second in the Silver Cup.
The start of the race brought misfortune to three Audi entries, when a turn one melee sucked in the Absolute Racing sister cars of Alessio Pircariello/Anthony Liu and Adderly Fong/Andrew Kim as well as OD Racing Team WRT’s Mitch Gilbert/Aditya Patel.
After 10 rounds, Cheng Congfu and Martin Rump are fourth in the Silver Cup standings (131 points), 29 points from the category leader with two races remaining. Anthony Liu sits fifth on the Pro/Am leaderboard (116 points), 40 points from top spot.
“Congratulations to Takeda-san, Shirasaka-san and KCMG for their Am Cup championship win. They have been almost untouchable all season to wrap up the title with two races still to go,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Also congrats to Phoenix Racing Asia for once again showcasing their conpetitiveness with a podium at the Super Taikyu Series in Japan.”
It was a successful weekend for Phoenix Racing Asia in the penultimate round of the 2018 Super Taikyu season in Motegi, Japan. Having qualified fifth, the #83 Phoenix Racing Asia Audi R8 LMS of Singapore’s Lim Keong Wee, Melvin Moh of Malaysia and Swiss ace Mathias Beche fought well to finish second.
Starting the five-hour marathon from second on the grid, the J-Fly Racing by Phoenix Racing Asia #81 line-up of Cup star Jeffrey Lee, André Couto and Japanese ace Shintaro Kawabata crossed the line fourth, just missing out on joining their teammates on the podium.
Blancpain GT Series Asia round 10 report
As the 32 car field lined up for the race start, Absolute Racing’s Cheng and Rump were once more the highest placed of the six Audi R8 LMS entries, lining up third on the grid with Rump taking the first stint. Round nine Pro/Am race winners Picariello and Liu were the other Audi customer team starting in the top 10, with Picariello lining up in seventh.
Just as it had been in Saturday’s round nine, turn one proved an unhappy hunting ground for the Audi customer teams and drivers. Amidst the jostling for position, Adderly Fong, who had started in 12th, Picariello and Patel, who had moved up from 17th on the grid, were caught up in the chaos.
The impacts were enough to bring Picariello and Patel back to the pits and, ultimately, out of the race. Fong was able to continue, but his car was damaged, and teammate Kim eventually took it home in 15th overall, seventh in the Pro/Am class.
Rump came through the turn one fracas unscathed but had dropped to seventh in the order. The Estonian recovered well to hand over to fellow Audi Sport Asia driver Cheng in fifth at the midrace driver changeover.
Cheng then moved up to fourth and was closing in on the podium in the final lap, but ran out of time, finishing just seven-tenths of a second behind the third-placed competitor.
KCMG’s Shirasaka started the race 23rd, second in the Am classification, and knew that he and partner Takeda just needed to bring the car home without incident to claim the title. They did just that, moving up to 17th, second in class, by the flag to decide the first series title of the season with two races to spare.
In the Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing entry, Bhirombhakdi had started 24th, third in class, and had an eventful stint that included a spin just prior to the midrace driver change.
Sun took over in 21st and charged through the mid-pack to finish 16th overall, enough to secure the team’s maiden Am Cup win this season.