Abbott, Buhk prevail in race two
GruppeM Racing claimed a supreme victory with Hunter Abbott and Maximilian Buhk during round four of the Blancpain GT Series Asia at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand.
Mercedes-AMG GT3 pairing had finished in the runner-up spot in race one on Saturday, but a time penalty dropped them back to sixth and fifth in PRO-AM. In race two Abbott-Buhk finished 11.1s seconds clear of Audi Hong Kong’s Silver Cup class winners Marchy Lee and Shaun Thong, who overcame a seven-second pitstop success penalty to lift their second overall runners-up trophy of the weekend, while a spirited late race charge from Mitch Gilbert earned him and OD Racing co-driver Aditya Patel third overall.
CMRT Eurasia’s Kenneth Lim and James Cai won a race of attrition to scoop AM Cup honours, while Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Jean Marc Merlin and Frank Yu scored a dominant GT4 class victory.
An opening lap accident not only triggered an early Safety Car period but also removed four potential victory candidates from the 60-minute race. Alex Yoong, yesterday’s winner Rui Aguas, Davide Rizzo and Martin Rump were running inside the top-seven as they approached Turn 5 before a racing incident resulted in all four ending their afternoon in the gravel.
The resulting Safety Car period lasted four laps before J-Fly by Absolute Racing’s pole-sitter Alessio Picariello made the perfect restart to edge clear of Buhk in second. The pair soon gapped Max Wiser’s Spirit of Race Ferrari before engaging in a game of cat and mouse throughout the opening stint. Never more than three seconds apart, they eventually pitted together just before the 10-minute window ended and handed over to their respective co-drivers, Jeffrey Lee and Abbott.
The race off pit road ended as it had begun, with Lee’s Audi just over two seconds clear of its pursuer. Abbott was soon up to speed, though, and made short work of reeling in and passing the R8 LMS GT3 before setting off towards a comfortable victory. It capped a weekend of mixed emotions for Buhk and Abbott after the latter’s practice accident resulted in the car being hastily rebuilt with parts taken from the sister #888 entry. Second in Saturday opening race then became sixth in the final classification as punishment for making avoidable contact with Gilbert’s Audi.
GruppeM increased points lead as Abbott took P1 in driver standings.
“The whole team spirit at GruppeM left me speechless this weekend and enabled Maxi and I to get out in race one and two when, on Friday night, we didn’t think this was going to be possible. We recovered to take a win this weekend, and the championship lead. I am so proud of everybody including Lena who hand carried the missing parts from Germany to Buriram overnight.” – said the new series leader Abbott.
“I’m very delighted to finish my first race in Asia on a high.” – added Buhk – “After the crash we had it is a very good result for the whole team after the effort they put in to get the second car back on track.”