Victory for Au and Schandorff in Thailand
12th May 2019
Alex Au and Frederik Schandorff took a fine Pro-Am class victory in the second round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia held at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram this weekend. Race one’s victory was followed by a second place on Sunday leaving the VSR Lamborghini pair leading the Pro-Am standings.
Chang was a new circuit for Schandorff but the Dane was quick to get to grips with the tight circuit, finishing up seventh fastest in Friday’s dry free practice session and topping the wet session which took place later that day. Fast times from Alex Au left VSR confident of another good result as race day approached.
Sweltering heat returned for qualifying on Saturday and it was Au who took the wheel of the VSR Lamborghini for the first session. With a best lap of 1’35.563 the driver from Hong Kong put in a strong performance, securing a place on the fifth row and finishing third quickest in the Pro-Am class. Au maintained his position at the start of the hour-long race and spent the opening lap fending off the McLaren of Bhirombhakdi and Tjiptobiantoro’s Porsche as the trio fought to get past Li. Au accomplished this on lap two and a spin from Bhirombhakdi two laps later left the VSR driver with a three second gap over the rest of the Pro-Am field whilst up ahead Descombes held the class lead in his Porsche. An accomplished drive from Au during his stint saw him consolidate second in class and hand over a three second gap to the Ferrari behind him when he pitted. Schandorff was immediately on the pace and took full advantage of a relatively clear track to close the gap to the class leader Tjia to just four seconds. Two laps after the pit window closed Schandorff was already harrying the Porsche and had ex-Formula 1 driver Haryanto closing in. On lap twenty-seven the Dane wrested the class lead from Tjia and for the remaining ten laps was able to manage the gap to Haryanto behind him, keeping the Ferrari driver four seconds back. A late race stop and go for Nielsen and a spin for Couto moved the VSR Lamborghini up in the overall rankings and Schandorff took the chequered flag sixth overall, first in Pro-Am.
Schandorff qualified the car for Sunday’s race and lined up on row six. A storming start saw him up to eighth by the end of the first lap but further overtaking proved impossible as the field settled down. The pit window opened on lap sixteen and Schandorff stayed on track until close to the end before stopping so Au could take over. Au exited the pits sixth in class with a twenty-six second deficit to the class leader and was eleven seconds behind his next target, Bhirombhakdi in fifth. On lap twenty-five Ibraham and Lee tangled at the front of the Pro-Am field, gifting the VSR car two further places and putting a podium within reach. With Au lapping as quickly as the race and class leader Inthraphuvasak he quickly reeled in Li lying in third but before he could make a pass the Porsche hit trouble. His retirement bought out the safety car, closing up the field, and when racing went green again there were just five minutes left. A masterful display from Au saw him take advantage of the Silver Cup cars overtaking Bhirombhakdi to make his own pass, claiming fifth overall and second in class.
Photos by Fotospeedy