Xu Jia and Alessio Picariello of KINGS have secured the 2018 China GT Championship title. The title win, the second in a row for Xu, was claimed with victory in round 11 at the Shanghai International Circuit. In the third season for the national series, the Audi R8 LMS GT3 was driven to victory in nine of the 10 races in which it was entered.
“Congratulations to Xu Jia and Alessio Picariello for their championship win,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Xu’s number one KINGS Audi R8 LMS GT3 has taken victory in seven races this year, a fantastic achievement for the team.”
Xu and Picariello finished second in round 12 to leave them classified on 193 championship points, 43 points clear of their closest challengers.
At the series finale, the Audi R8 LMS Cup car of 69 Racing Team’s Jeffrey Zee and Jacky Wu took seventh in class in round 11. The pair were unable to finish round 12 after a spin late in the race.
For Saturday’s penultimate round of the 2018 season, KINGS’ Xu and Picariello elected to run both of their stints on used tyres to preserve two fresh sets for the season finale.
The strategic decision was vindicated with a dominant victory for the duo from pole to take the championship title with one race to spare.
After a strong stint from Xu, Picariello emerged from the driver changeover with a 5.8 second lead at the front of the field. Despite the lead being reduced in the later stages by the second-placed runner, Picariello took the car home untroubled for another win.
In the GTC class, lining up on the same grid, Jeffrey Zee and Jacky Wu were classified seventh, after crossing the line 12th overall.
With Sunday’s round 12 grid set by the round 11 finishing positions, Xu once more lined up on pole.
When the lights went green, the Chinese privateer lost the lead in the run into turn one, yet, by turn seven, he had reclaimed it and proceeded to put clean air between his Audi R8 LMS GT3 and the chasing pack.
Xu had built up a lead of over 10 seconds by the midrace driver changeover when he handed the reins to Picariello. Unfortunately, the team were denied an eighth win of the season when Picariello was hit with a drive-through penalty for exceeding track limits.
That put the ‘Belgian Bullet’ over 20 seconds behind the leader in second place. With just six minutes left on the clock, a safety car was called out, seemingly giving Picariello hope to reclaim race lead. Unfortunately, the clock ticked down and only one lap of racing remained when the safety car was called in, with Picariello crossing the line in second overall.