Rnd#5 2017 China GT Championship
Zhuhai International Circuit, China
29 July, 2017
After a challenging campaign during the previous round of the China GT Championship at Zhuhai International Circuit earlier in the month, teams faced markedly different conditions the second time around, with high heat and humidity mixed with a revised balance of performance for many of the cars adding a whole new equation for the fifth round of the championship.
Qualifying on Friday saw one of the closest grids all season, with the title contenders right in the mix at the pointy end of the field, laying the foundation for some intense racing in the GT3 and GTC/GT4 classes, and the drivers didn’t disappoint.
GT3 was up first at mid-day, with the pole-sitting Bentley of Andrew Kim quickly swamped off the start into turn one, notably by team-mate Adderly Fong and Audi Hong Kong’s Marchy Lee, the two Hong Kong locals making contact soon after with Lee emerging the winner of that argument. By that stage JRM’s Maxime Jousse had forged through from the fourth row to the lead before opening a big advantage ahead of the compulsory pit stop.
Sadly, despite leading after the stop, team-mate Li Jiaqi spun on his first flying lap handing Alex Au a comfortable lead in the #06 Audi, a lead that looked certain to hand the team their first victory, but within minutes of the finish, points leader Xu Jia was hard into the barriers at the exit of turn ten immediately bringing the safety car into play, closing up the field for a final run to the flag.
Ultimately, despite the best intentions of Kings Racing’s Martin Rump and FAW T2M’s Martin Ragginger, Au held on to claim the win, with Rump second and Ragginger third.
In the opening race of GTC/GT4 the action was no less intense, with a great battle unfolding over the closing stages between the pole-sitting Spirit-Z Racing Audi R8 of Sun Zheng and Sunny Wong, GTC points leader Huang Hsi Chan in the D2 Lamborghini and the JRM Lamborghini of round four winner Will Bamber, Huang though holding out his rivals to claim his third win of the season.
Meanwhile, in the GT4 category, a great battle between the pole-sitting Lotus Evora GT4 of Anthony Chan and Ray Mak and the points-leading McLaren 570S GT4 of David McIntyre and Roelof Bruins was unfolding, the Lotus in the end gaining the upper hand over the closing laps with the McLaren second and Chen Yinian and Lo Sze Ho in the KTM X-Bow GT4 third.