Audi teams made it two victories out of two races in the China GT Championship this weekend when Audi Hong Kong’s Melvin Moh, teaming up with Eric Loh for the Zhuhai weekend, took victory in Round 4. The win capped off a remarkable clean sweep of the podium for Audi with teammates Marchy Lee and Alex Au in second and Martin Rump and Wang Liang of Kings Linky third.
It was the second podiums of very impressive weekends for the Rump/Wang and Lee/Au pairings, who had finished Round 3 in first and third respectively in the pouring rain.
“Congratulations to all of the Audi teams and drivers on a superb Zhuhai weekend where we took five of the six podium places in the GT3 races. The challenging weather conditions with rain and scorching heat further underlined the competitive strength of the Asian race outfits,” commented Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia.
Xu Jia of Kings Linky finished fourth and fifth in Rounds 3 and 4 respectively and continues to lead the drivers’ championship on 72 points.
In the GTC races Kimi Qin of Spirit Z Racing led Round 4 from lap five until the very last lap when he slipped to third. In Round 3, the former Audi R8 LMS Cup driver crossed the finish line in first place only for a post-race penalty to push him down the rankings to 12th.
On a damp, drying track with threatening storm clouds overhead and the field shod with slicks, traction was always going to be the game changer. With a front row start, Marchy Lee took the first stint for the #6 Phoenix Racing Asia-run Audi Hong Kong entry but was quickly overhauled by Max Wiser in the Tianshi Racing Team Audi R8 LMS. Just eight minutes in, the race was interrupted by the first of four safety car periods with Wiser leading the field.
Racing resumed briefly, but confusion followed with two more safety car periods during the pit window. After the safety car was called out for a fourth time with 10 mins remaining the race was red flagged and brought to an end.
Martin Rump and Wang Liang were declared the winners – the third consecutive win for a Kings Linky Audi – with Audi R8 LMS race cars finishing in four of the top five final positions. Lee and Alex Au took their first series podium in third ahead of Kings Racing’s Xu Jia and the Wiser/Huang Chuhan Tianshi Racing Team (TSRT) pair. Audi Hong Kong’s Moh and Lo finished seventh.
In the GTC race, all eyes were on Kimi Qin who rocketed into the lead off the start from eighth on the grid and thundered over the line to take the win. Disappointingly however, as had been the case earlier in the day with the GT3 race, the atrocious conditions brought confusion and Qin was later handed a 19 second penalty for entering parc fermé prematurely, dropping him to 12th. As the highest Audi finisher in the race, Yuan Ting Ting of Leo 109 became the first female recipient of the Audi Challenge trophy.
Sunday brought mercifully dry conditions, but drivers had to contend with the searing heat and energy-sapping humidity. In front of thousands of enthusiastic fans, Lee was the big mover off the start, ploughing through the field from ninth up to second, before closing in on the race leader. The Hong Kong veteran closed the gap to a mere eight-tenths of a second, with Loh staying right in podium contention in third and Huang Chuhan running fourth ahead of Xu Jia.
As the cars emerged after the driver changeover, it was Au, taking over from Lee, who led the pack in the #6 Audi Hong Kong entry, followed by Melvin Moh taking over from Loh for the second stint.
Rump emerged from the pits in seventh and, as the minutes ticked away, the Estonian Audi R8 LMS Cup star set his sights firmly on what seemed like an unattainable podium finish.
Out in front, Moh had closed in on Audi Hong Kong teammate Au, and snatched the race lead with 17 minutes remaining. Rump dived past Wiser to move into fourth before embarking on a last gasp dash for third, dramatically claiming the final podium spot in the final two minutes and ensuring a one, two, three finish for Audi. Post-race penalties saw Xu Jia finish fifth with Wiser and Huang sixth ensuring five of the top six were Audi R8 LMS race cars.
Victory was once again denied Kimi Qin in the safety car-interrupted GTC race. Having fought his way to the front of the pack from last on the grid, Qin came under a fierce late-race challenge for the lead, eventually succumbing to the pressure and spinning off the track. He recovered fast enough to cross the line third, claiming the final podium spot and the Audi Challenge trophy.
Rump, Lee and TSRT driver David Chen will be back in action next weekend as the Audi R8 LMS Cup 2017 season continues at the Korea International Circuit, with Rounds 5 and 6 held on July 15 and 16.