A month or so ago I received an invite to try racing in China GT. In addition to my Audi R8 LMS Cup and Blancpain GT Asia campaigns in 2017, this was the third addition to my calendar. As a result, last month has been flat-out racing for me with 3 race weekends in 4 weeks.
First off, I went to Zhuhai for China GT. While getting to know the Chinese Kings-Linky Racing team, I had to adapt quickly to the new working environment. Their ‘always have fun’ mindset as well as flashy grid girls I got quickly used to.
While having the best Chinese food in Zhuhai, I improved a lot my chopsticks skills too. The main problem I had to tackle however was multilingual communication. The usual things like making a seat, pit stop and driver-change practice, or even simpler things like asking for my drinking bottle or adjusting mirrors between the stints proved to be ever more so difficult. At times it made me look for a more creative approach, other times just some more repetition was needed. And although some of my mechanics and I didn’t verbally understand each-other, we shared the same goal, and the strongly motivated determination in their eyes was inspiring. After long hours of driver-change practice, which continued past daylight hours under pit lighting, we reduced our pit-stop time to fit the rather short allocated time of around half a minute. It was a great achievement that gave us a fighting chance in the races. Because a second in the pits feels incredibly shorter than a second on the race track.
Showing great pace and consistency, my driving partner Wang Liang and I managed to claim a win as well as a P3 finish in the two races. A near-perfect weekend and great effort from the team. I was glad to help the rest of the team with fast data, video examples and pointers for teammates.
Buzzing from the successful weekend, I had a day off that I filled with discovering a mall in Zhuhai, going to the gym and having a hot bath. Then I flew off to Korea for Audi R8 LMS Cup rounds 5&6.
Everything was going great until during Free-Practice 1, for the first time in my career, my car caught fire. It’s something that race drivers have nightmares about. First smoke from the engine bay, then flames. The fire was quickly put off by fast-reacting KCMG mechanics. Still, the engine loom had burnt and needed a change. That pretty much compromised the weekend. But we fought hard to claim P5 & P6 finishes, while lacking decent data and therefore the setup. Oh, I did my first live video on Audi R8 LMS Cup facebook page. Make sure to check that out, I show my Champion Racing Team car close up and show you how it feels to sit in the driver’s seat.
Find the video here: https://www.facebook.com/audir8lmscup
I flew back to Estonia to get a quick refresh, catch up with some friends and soon enough off I was back to Zhuhai for next two rounds of China GT.
This time our #8 Audi R8 was around 50 kilos heavier due to success in the previous Zhuhai weekend and we knew it was going to be a lot tougher to repeat our result. However, we handled that challenge well. In both races I charged through the field and I especially enjoyed the second race, where in the closing stages I had a 4-way battle for the lead against a Bentley and two Porsches. But I was the one to finish P1 in the nimble Audi R8. First race was exciting too. I charged from 9th to finish P2, fighting for positions until the chequered flag.
Now I have two weeks until Blancpain GT Asia rounds 7&8 in Fuji, Japan. By the way, after the race on Sunday I’ll be flying overnight to Manchester in order to take a resit exam on Monday. Best I start revising now. Or later.