Bentley Team Absolute drivers Adderly Fong and Keita Sawa took two hard-fought podium finishes in Rounds 8 & 9 of the GT Asia Series at the 4.6km Shanghai International Circuit at the weekend. The Car #08 duo now lie second on the Driver Classification leaderboard, just four points adrift of the leader with two races in the 2015 season still to go.
The superb efforts of the six Bentley Team Absolute drivers, who ensured all three cars finished both races in the top 10, sees them retain their lead in the championship’s Team Classification with 14 points over their closest challenger.
With Jacky Yeung absent from the Shanghai double-header, 24-year-old South Korean Andrew Kim stepped up to partner Briton Duncan Tappy in Car #77. Kim is a regular in the Audi R8 LMS Cup where he competes in the Amateur Cup category. Briton Andy Meyrick was back with Jeffrey Lee in Car #07, with the Car #08 duo of 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Champion Keita Sawa and Hong Kong’s Adderly Fong reuniting for the Shanghai assault.
“We are delighted with another strong showing by all six drivers in Shanghai this weekend and, as a result, extending Bentley Team Absolute’s lead at the top of the GT Asia Team Championship,” said Absolute Racing director Ingo Matter. “We fought hard and we fought clean today, and having all three cars in the top 10 shows just how competitive we are as a team. We are in a strong position going in to the final rounds, where we expect the Driver Championship to go right down to the wire.”
STORY OF THE RACES
With Sawa starting for Car #08 from P10, the Japanese ace rocketed through the field to put the car in podium contention.
The Safety Car was called out after a major shunt left a car stranded on track. The driver was unscathed, but more than 10 minutes were lost as his stricken car was recovered. At that stage, Kim was running in P6 in Car #77.
Fong took over at the mandatory pit stop and was on a charge, passing team mate Kim to claim the final podium position for Car #77.
With the start of Round 8 delayed, the race was shortened to 50 minutes, but as the 17-car field got away, Fong charged away from P2, holding on to second before being shunted out of position on the back straight. Recovering quickly, he mounted a strong challenge on his rival, getting by to reclaim P2 on Lap 9 after a crowd-thrilling battle.
Lee had been running in P7 behind Kim before stopping on track. He was able to continue, but the interruption dropped him down to P16. However, he mounted a spirited charge through the field, and was back up to P11 by Lap 7, moving up one place when the car ahead was handed a drive through penalty.
At the pit stop, Sawa managed to stay ahead of his rival, retaining a fierce hold on P2, but with a gap of more than six seconds to the leader, he had his work cut out to challenge for the win. Tappy, meanwhile, had to fight off a two-pronged attack as he began his stint in P5 after taking over from Kim, eventually relinquishing a position.
While Sawa kept his head down, focussing on pulling away from the chasing pack, both Tappy and Meyrick, in P6 and P10 respectively, had their mirrors full. Meyrick dropped to P11 with less than 10 minutes on the clock, but climbed back two places in the closing stages of the race.
At the front of the pack, Sawa was fighting hard to retain the runner-up spot, fighting off an uncompromising challenge from behind, before eventually succumbing to the assault.
At the flag, it was Car #08 P3, Car #77 P6 and Car #07 in P9 after the hard-fought but brilliant 50-minute marathon.
Bentley Team Absolute will be back in action for the final two rounds of the 2015 GT Asia Series next month for what promises to be a sensational end to the teams debut season. Rounds 10 & 11 are set for Thailand’s Chang International Circuit on October 24 and 25, where both the Driver and Team Classifications will be decided.