24th September, 2017 – Blancpain GT Series Asia, Shanghai
At a wet Shanghai Sandy Stuvik took Lamborghini's first Blancpain GT Series Asia pole position, beating the rest of the twenty-nine strong field by 0.323 seconds. Stuvik and team-mate Nemoto were running at the front until a penalty dropped them down to 4th, 3rd in the Silver Cup.
Shanghai hosted round five of the Blancpain GT Series Asia where an impressive field of twenty-nine GT cars provided two exciting races. There was a driver change at VSR with Japanese youngster Yuki Nemoto making his GT3 debut alongside Thailand’s Sandy Stuvik. Both free practice sessions were devoted to learning the Chinese circuit and on Saturday morning rain greeted the teams. Third fastest in the short Official Practice session VSR’s Lamborghini looked quick on the wet track. Stuvik confirmed the Huracan’s pace taking pole position for Saturday’s race by 0.323 seconds – the first pole in Blancpain GT Series Asia for both VSR and Lamborghini. Stuvik was 1.2 seconds quicker than the next best Huracan.
The track was still treacherously damp for the start of the race but most of the field opted to start on slicks. A chaotic first lap saw the leaders jostling for position, three wide into the first corner with much place swapping as the cars scrabbled for grip. Stuvik crossed the line at the end of the opening lap in third place but his fight with the leading Audi’s was put on ice for a short safety car intervention. When the race resumed Stuvik quickly passed O’Young for second and a lap later wrested the lead of the race from Read. As the drivers behind him fought for position Stuvik put his foot down and built up an eight second lead in two laps. By then Gilbert had battled to the front of the pack and the rapid Audi started eating into Stuvik’s lead. By lap ten the top three were running nose to tail and their dicing as they lapped the slower GT4 cars enlivened the race. Stuvik briefly lost the lead to Gilbert before reclaiming it back and stayed ahead until the pit window opened. He dived straight in to the pits to hand over the lead of the race to Nemoto. When the pit window closed the Japanese driver had a ten second lead over the three Audi’s pursuing him but dreams of victory were short lived when news of a drive through penalty for contact on the opening lap arrived. Nemoto served the penalty immediately and rejoined the race in fourth place. With the leading group running similarly consistent lap times there were no further changes up front and Nemoto took the flag in 4th, 3rd in the Silver Cup.
Nemoto took the car out for the second qualifying session and, getting his first taste of a GT3 car in the wet, would start from row five on Sunday. The weather worsened overnight and the race was run in torrid conditions. Nemoto passed Modell for ninth during his stint and when the pit window coincided with a full course yellow came in to give the car to Stuvik. The Thai driver had just passed Lee and then Sugden for seventh when he lost grip on the wet track and spun down to tenth. As the rain worsened in the final laps Stuvik re-passed Lee for ninth and closed right up on Read. He finished the race just one second behind and claimed further Silver Cup points after being classified seventh in class.
The Blancpain GT Series Asia concludes next month with the final round of the Championship which will be held at Zhejiang, China.
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