Martin Rump and Cheng Congfu finished second in the penultimate race of the Blancpain GT Series Asia season in Ningbo, China. The Absolute Racing duo were impressive to secure their third podium of the season and move up to third in the Silver Cup. Teammates Adderly Fong and Andrew Kim secured their maiden Pro/Am victory of the season in round 11, crossing the line fourth overall from a starting position of 12th after a strong performance from both drivers.
The race had started with carnage on the first lap that Kim capitalised on to jump seven positions. The melee saw four cars eliminated, one of which was the third Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Anthony Liu and Alessio Picariello. Chinese ace, Liu, was unlucky to be sucked in to the drama at turn two after catching the eye as the fastest qualifying Audi driver. The bronze-ranked privateer had been the quickest amateur driver on track by far in the morning’s session – to start round 11 fifth, in amongst the professionals in the field.
Classified sixth in round 11 was the Silver-ranked OD Racing Team WRT pair of Mitch Gilbert and Aditya Patel. Patel had also seized the opportunity that presented itself on the opening lap to advance through the field at the race start, and Gilbert followed up with a strong stint to cross the line seventh. The pair were later promoted one place after a competitor was hit with a post-race penalty.
“It was a tough race with lots of incidents and action today. Our customer teams kept their concentration to extract impressive results from the challenging race,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Congratulations to Martin Rump and Cheng Congfu for their podium and also to Adderly Fong and Andrew Kim for their class win.”
Under moody skies and the threat of rain, the penultimate round of Blancpain GT Series Asia’s second season kicked off at the Ningbo International Speedpark.
Anthony Liu’s lightning fast lap of 1:43.260 had put the bronze-ranked driver amongst his professional counterparts and his Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 fifth on the grid. Cheng was beside him in sixth with Patel 11th and Kim 12th.
As the 27-car GT field flew into turn one a front-runner was sent careering into the gravel trap, with more drama unfolding as the pack bunched into turn two. Liu did his best to steer through the chaos but could not avoid a spinning competitor in front, ending his race in disappointment.
The other Audi R8 LMS GT3s, meanwhile, were on the move with Cheng up to third, Patel fourth and Kim fifth as the safety car was called out to clear the track of debris and the eliminated vehicles.
That job took away almost 20 of the 60 minutes allotted for the race. After losing a place just after the safety car was called in, Kim was the first Audi customer into the pits as the midrace driver change pit window opened at the 25-minute mark.
Adderly Fong took the reins and emerged from the pits to immediately dive up the inside of a competitor to be running fifth.
Gilbert was another on the power early in his stint, taking over from Patel and emerging from the pits in fifth before advancing two places to be running third with less than 20 minutes to go. Defending relentlessly from a rival, the Malaysian eventually lost out navigating some backmarkers to drop a place to fourth, with Fong directly on his tail and piling on the pressure with 15 minutes of the race remaining.
Out in front Martin Rump had taken over from Cheng Congfu to emerge from the driver changeover in second and had built a gap of over 12 seconds between himself and the third-placed car, but also found himself over nine seconds from the race lead.
Those gaps were about to be reduced to almost nothing as the safety car was called out for the second time in the race with only 13 minutes remaining. This brought Rump in with a chance of victory, and Fong, who had got past Gilbert just prior to the safety car, in with a shot of the podium.
In the end, there were too many backmarkers caught up between the front runners to put any of the front four under direct attack at the restart, as the safety car was called in with just six minutes to go.
Rump crossed the line second, with Fong just two places back to secure a long-deserved Pro/Am victory for himself and Kim. Gilbert was unfortunate to lose out to the late-race bunch-up of the field to eventually cross the line in seventh. His later promotion to sixth secured his team’s best result of the season.
The round 12 season finale kicks off at the Ningbo International Speedpark in China on Sunday 14th October at 10:55 (UTC +8). Fong will line-up in seventh, with Picariello, partnering Liu, starting eight and Rump ninth. Gilbert starts in his OD Racing Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 in 14th.