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There was plenty of hype ahead of the inaugural Sepang 3-Hour event that signaled round seven of the 2015 GT Asia Series – the first endurance event in the history of the series more than lived up to the hype.
GTAsia_Sepang3Hr_podium_BL_medMother nature added a nice twist to the event too with intermittent rain falling late in the first hour, and again in the middle stages of the race just as a dry-line started to appear, but in the end, nothing could stop the BBT Ferrari duo of Anthony Liu and Davide Rizzo from claiming their second win of the year, to jump right back into title contention heading into the final two rounds of the season.
Whilst Ferrari was clearly the car to have in Sepang, the Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin pairing of Darryl O’Young and new co-driver Daniel Lloyd did everything in their power to upstage the ‘Maranello machines’, claiming pole position earlier in the day, before O’Young drove a brilliant opening stint to lead for much of the first hour.
After the compulsory pit stops had cleared though, it looked to be a battle between BBT and the TP12 Racing Team of Todd Piti and Carlo Van Dam, but ultimately points leaders Keita Sawa and Adderly Fong worked the Bentley Continental into contention in the difficult conditions late in the race to claim second, marginally ahead of the storming Daniel Lloyd.
For the FFF Racing Team by ACM McLaren team, it was a tough weekend in Malaysia, the oppressive heat and humidity certainly making it more challenging for the turbo powered cars, but despite that Andrea Caldarelli and new recruit Ronald Wu qualified on the second row of the grid, with all three McLarens featuring early in the race before a litany of niggling issues had them all back into the pits at various stages during the race.
GTAsia_Sepang3Hr_start_BL_medThere were some standout performance across the three-hour journey, notably young Daniel Lloyd, thrown in to replace the injured Jonathon Venter just days before the event – from his qualifying effort – pole – to his final stint in the car to reel in the #8 Bentley – the young Englishman showed that he is an emerging star on the international GT stage.
James Calado and Mok Weng Sun had an impressive race, with Calado putting on a master-class for the GT Asia Series regulars in the challenging conditions, the Englishman often three or four seconds a lap faster than anyone else in the field.
Throw in a worthy performance from series rookies Nexus Infinity with Dominic Ang and Adrian D’Silva in their Ferrari 458, a commendable job from Duncan Tappy and reigning GTM class champion Jacky Yeung, and cameo performances from Richard Lyons and Frank Yu – despite a number of challenges for the #88 Interush team – and you had all the ingredients you needed for an epic opening endurance round for the GT Asia Series.
And the action wasn’t just confined to the GT3 class either, with the GTM category providing plenty of action, and a debut that ended with two new teams standing alongside points leader Jerry Wang on the Sepang podium.
Ultimately it was Wang – aided by the talented Warren Luff who claimed the win, although not without a battle.
GTAsia_Sepang3Hr_OYoung_BL_medAfter looking like they may be watching the 3-Hour race unfold from the grandstands, both the Gulf Racing JP team of Hisashi Kunie and Dylan Derdaele and the Dilango Racing team of Takuma Aoki and Ken Urata made the grid for Saturday’s big race, overcoming problems which had sidelined them during practice.
Unfortunately though, they were unable to make an impact during the race, despite their own cameos at the front of the field.
With Wang starting the Absolute Racing Audi, Derdaele made the most of the start, the Belgian GT star storming into the top ten before his first compulsory stop, but that’s when the fun started – the #20 team without significant wheels to allow a tyre change, the duo completing the entire race on one set of slicks despite the heavy rain showers that impacted the race in the closing stages.
For the popular Aoki, he made a solid start to be right in the fight for a GTM class podium, before the cooling issues that plagued the team during practice once again returned, forcing their retirement not long after their first stop.
That ultimately handed the new GDL Racing Porsche team a 2-3 finish, with Melvin Moh and Keong Wee Lim leading home their 9tro team-mates Liam Lim and Nigel Farmer.
So what does that do to the championship? By virtue of recovering for a second placed finish, Sawa and Fong now stand alone on top of the points table, just two points clear of BBT’s Liu and Rizzo with O’Young two points further back in third.
Next up we’re heading to Shanghai, where a quick look back at the results of last year suggests that BBT’s rivals will have a tough time heading to Chinese team’s home circuit, with both Liu and Rizzo claiming a pole-apiece in 2014, ahead of a comfortable victory in race one. One thing is for certain though, this championship is a long way from over!
It’s just a short three week break until the penultimate round of the season where we will once again return to ‘sprint’ format, with two scheduled 60-minute races, ahead of the final round of the championship in Thailand, for the first ever event for GT Asia on the new Chang International Circuit in Buriram.
Rnd#7 – 2015 GT Asia Series
Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3-Hours of Sepang; (5 September, 2015)
1. 37. Anthony Liu/Davide Rizzo (BBT Ferrari 458 GT3) – 72-laps
2. 8. Keita Sawa/Adderly Fong (Absolute Bentley GT3)
3. 99. Darryl O’Young/Daniel Lloyd (Craft-Bamboo Aston)
4. 1. Mok Weng Sun/James Calado (Clearwater Racing Ferrari)
5. 11. Carlo Van Dam/Piti Bhirom Bhakdi (Singha Ferrari 458)
6. 77. Duncan Tappy/Jacky Yeung (Absolute Bentley Continental) – 71-laps
7. 27. Dominic Ang/Adrian D’Silva (Nexus Infinity Ferrari 458 GT3)
8. 86. Zen Low/Fairuz Fauzy (OD Racing Gallardo GT3) – 70-laps
9. 7. Jeffrey Lee/Andy Meyrick (Absolute Bentley GT3)
10. 88. Frank Yu/Richard Lyons (Craft-Bamboo Aston Martin)
11. 23. Jerry Wang/Warren Luff (Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3)* – 69-laps
12. 87. Keong Wee Lim/Melvin Moh (GDL Racing Porsche Type 997 Cup S)* – 68-laps
13. 67. Keong Liam Lim/Nigel Farmer (GDL Racing Porsche 997 Cup)
14. 20. Dylan Derdaele/Hasashi Kunie (Gulf JP Porsche GT3 Cup)* – 66-laps
15. 78. Robert Lee/George Chou (Taiwan Top Speed Ferrari 458)*
16. 15. Rod Salmon/Nathan Antunes (FFF Racing McLaren 650S) – 65-laps
17. 22. Keiichi Mori/Tetsuya Makino (Gulf JP Porsche GT3-R) – 64-laps
23. 95. Craig liu/K.S. Wang (Taiwan Top Speed Ferrari Challenge)*
DNF. 5. Ronald Wu/Andrea Caldarelli (FFF Racing McLaren GT3)
- 46-laps
DNF. 12. Hiroki Katoh/Richard Wee (Clearwater Racing Ferrari) – 40-laps
DNF. 34. Takuma Aoki/Ken Urata (Dilango Gallardo FL2 GT3)* – 27-laps
DNF. 68. Yuk Lung Siu/Mak Hing Tak (LKM Racing Porsche GT3-R) – 15-laps
DNF. 71. Graeme Dowsett/John Curran (Team NZ Porsche 997 Cup Car)* – 15-laps
DNF. 55. Hiroshi Hamaguchi/Tonio Liuzzi (FFF Racing McLaren GT3) – 10-laps
*GTM Class
Ben Potter

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