4th August 2019 – Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia & Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia, Yeongam
The seventh Pro-Am podium of the season for Alex Au and Frederik Schandorff in Saturday’s Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia race was all set to be followed by an overall podium on Sunday when the team’s Lamborghini was taken out of the race as it exited the pits. A practice crash kept Au and his Super Trofeo team-mate Yuki Nemoto from competing in the Lamborghini one-make race, leaving VSR honours to be upheld by LB Cup driver Kumar Prabakaran.
The Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia and Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia teams convened in Korea this weekend at the Korea International Circuit in Yeongam. KIC was a new track for Frederik Schandorff but his co-driver Alex Au had previous knowledge of the complex circuit. Au was behind the wheel of the team’s Lamborghini Huracan Evo for the first qualifying session and secured a place on the sixth row for Saturday’s race, setting the fourth fastest lap-time in the Pro-Am class.
Au started race one well, passing Ibrahaim’s Mercedes whilst scrapping with Nielsen, and moving into third place in Pro-Am. He spent much of his stint running in the wheel tracks of Bhirombhakdi’s McLaren who was holding second in class whilst up ahead Pro-Am Championship leader Inthraphuvasak tried to pull out a gap big enough to cover his success penalty from the last race in Fuji. With little movement at the front of the field the danger for Au was coming from behind in the form of the Porsche driven by Liu who was recovering from a poor start. On lap seven he passed Ibrahim and had a five second gap to Au in the VSR car. By the time the pit window opened on lap twelve the two cars were together and just before Au pitted the Porsche sneaked past. A clash between Bhirombhakdi and Nielsen several corners later kept Au third in class as he handed the Lamborghini over to Schandorff. Most of the top Pro-Am runners stopped at the same time and Schandorff entered the track with Inthraphuvasak’s co-driver Imperatori right behind him. Their battle was short lived as a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit-lane dropped Schandorff down the order. With twenty minutes left similar penalties for the McLaren and the Porsche of Van Der Drift lifted the VSR car back into the running for a podium finish. Van Der Drift rejoined after his penalty just behind Schandorff and their fight enlivened the final ten minutes of the race. Schandorff took the chequered flag less than half a second ahead of the Porsche driver, finishing ninth overall and third in Pro-Am, scoring podium number seven for himself and co-driver Au and leaving them just seven points off the lead of the Pro-Am Championship.
Schandorff qualified on row four and was the fifth fastest Pro-Am car in qualifying for Sunday’s race. After yet another blistering opening lap the Dane was quickly up to fourth overall with just the Silver Cup Porsche of Ye separating him from Van Gisbergen and Imperatori at the front of the field. By lap four Schandorff was right behind the Porsche but it wasn’t until the leaders started to lap the slower GT4 cars that he was able to find a way past. Ye ran wide and Schandorff put the Lamborghini alongside him, completing the pass after three corners side by side. Two laps later the pit window opened and Schandorff pushed hard before pitting on lap fifteen. Both Van Gisbergen and Imperatori stayed out giving Au the possibility to undercut the second placed Porsche during the pit stops. Au never got his chance to capitalise on Schandorff’s excellent stint as he was hit by Tan’s Audi as he exited the pits. Tan received a drive through penalty for his error but the damage to the VSR car was enough to force Au into the garage to retire the car, a heavy blow to the team’s Championship hopes. With just one round left to go, in Shanghai in September, they now trail Inthraphuvasak by thirty-two points.
In the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Championship Nemoto set the fastest time in Friday’s free practice session before a crash put a premature end to the weekend for himself and his co-driver Alex Au. Kumar Prabakaran qualified for race one on Saturday fourth in class and fifth in class for race two. He finished both races, despite the intense and exhausting heat, scoring fifth in LB Cup on Saturday and going one better on Sunday to finish fourth after overtaking Lau late in the race.
The final Asian round of the Lamborghini Championship will take place next month in Shanghai before the cars are shipped to Europe for the season finale at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain.
Photos by Fotospeedy