MG Choi and Manuel Metzger oversaw a popular home win for Solite Indigo Racing earlier today at the Korea International Circuit where their Mercedes-AMG headed a Race 1 top-four comprising as many different manufacturers.
Metzger passed Philip Hamprecht early in the second stint to help his co-driver Choi return to the top of the Drivers’ standings. Hamprecht and his Absolute Racing partner Tanart Sathienthirakul slipped four points behind the Korean after finishing third, while HubAuto Corsa’s Yuya Sakamoto also remains firmly in title contention thanks to his new co-driver Marcos Gomes who snatched second from the Porsche late on.
Nevertheless, Hamprecht and Sathienthirakul’s podium plus fifth place for Yuan Bo and Leo Ye Hongli was enough for Absolute Racing to seal 2019’s Teams’ title with three races to spare.
In GT4, Craft-Bamboo’s Frank Yu and Richard Wee claimed victory ahead of both Team iRace.Win Mercedes-AMGs, Ringo Chong and Setiawan Santoso beating team-mates Keo Chang and Joe Chi to second.
GT3: CHAMPIONSHIP’S TOP-THREE UNTOUCHABLE OUT FRONT
Indigo’s Mercedes-AMG started on pole but this was no lights-to-flag cruise for MG Choi and Manuel Metzger who were made to work for their third victory of the season.
Choi’s start was clean enough before he was overhauled on the run to Turn 4 by Tanart Sathienthirakul, who was followed through by Yuya Sakamoto. The Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes-AMG then circulated together for the rest of the opening stint after dropping Audi Sport Asia Team TSRT’s David Chen.
There was never more than two seconds between the three championship protagonists who came into the weekend separated by 14 points. Pitstops looked the most likely chance to switch the order, but when the driver changes shook out it was still Philip Hamprecht out front from Metzger.
The German quickly closed in on his compatriot and, as they came up to the GT4 leader, took advantage of Hamprecht being baulked. Indigo’s Mercedes-AMG duly drove around the outside of both and into a lead it would never relinquish.
Behind, a slow pitstop initially dropped Sakamoto’s co-driver Marcos Gomes behind Rahel Frey. However, the Brazilian was soon past TSRT’s Audi and in pursuit of Hamprecht who he subsequently overtook at the same corner as Metzger with 10 minutes remaining.
Gomes was unable to catch Metzger who finished 4.8s clear, while Hamprecht came home another 3.5s further back. All three must now serve Pitstop Success Penalties tomorrow when the advantage will theoretically lie with Absolute’s Porsche.
Frey finished where team-mate Chen had pitted from after holding off Absolute’s second 911 shared by Yuan Bo and Yeo Le Hongli. They were chased hard by Martin Rump whose 15s Success Penalty limited his opportunity to catch the leaders after co-driver Weiron Tan had made his way up to fifth in the opening stint.
Pro/Am entries finished seventh and eighth, Shane van Gisbergen getting the better of Panther/AAS Motorsport’s Alex Imperatori on the final lap after the Kiwi’s scintillating stint saw Triple Eight’s Mercedes-AMG set fastest lap. Both crews were helped by VSR’s Lamborghini, which dropped to third in class and ninth overall after picking up a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pits.
A pitstop infringement also restricted JRM’s Porsche to 10th after Anthony Liu starred in the opening stint. The Chinese driver dropped from fourth to 17th on lap one but set a series of blistering laps to bring the car back into contention before Chris van der Drift climbed aboard.
AMAC Motorsport’s Andrew Macpherson and Ben Porter won the Am class in their Lamborghini.
Elsewhere, Jeffrey Lee’s five-place grid drop for making avoidable contact means team-mate Maxi Goetz will no longer start tomorrow’s race from pole position. That slot is now taken by Van Gisbergen who’s joined on the front row by Pro/Am class rival Imperatori.
GT4: CRAFT-BAMBOO RETURN TO WINNING WAYS
Craft-Bamboo’s Frank Yu and Richard Wee lead home a Mercedes-AMG one-two-three in the weekend’s first race at Yeongam.
The class looked finely poised after 0.5s covered the top-five in qualifying, and was blown wide open when a penalty for jumping the start forced BMW Team Studie’s Sunako Jukuchou to relinquish the lead after 15 minutes.
Yu was right behind the BMW and duly inherited the lead ahead of GTO Racing with TTR’s Brian Lee. Neither entry carried a pitstop penalty, but it was Lee’s co-driver Tony Fong who started the second stint with a five-second advantage.
Wee soon closed in and re-took the lead before Fong also lost out to a charging Setiawan Santoso whose Team iRace.Win Mercedes-AMG had remained stationary for an additional five seconds as a result of finishing third at Fuji.
GTO’s day then went from bad to worse when a problem on the penultimate tour dropped the Mercedes-AMG to fifth behind Keo Chang and Joe Chi, plus the recovering Jukuchou/Kinoshita BMW.
Sunday’s race starts at 12:20 KST (GMT +9). Watch it live on the championship’s website and Facebook page plus SRO GT World Youtube channel.
> Result: Yeongam Race 1
> Points: GT3 Drivers’ | GT4 Drivers’
Press release Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia