2019 China GT Sepang Weekend Qualifying Report
China GT adopts a new set of qualifying regulations in the new season, and today’s qualifying is the first time these rules are put to the test.
The new rules are as such that the times set in Qualifying session 1 (Q1) by the Pro driver in the Pro/Am pairing, or a designated Am driver in a AM/AM pairing, will set the grid for Race 1; and the Am drivers’ times in Qualifying session 2 (Q2) will dictate Race 2.
It was BWM factory driver Nick Yelloly of #90 FIST-Team AAI who sets the pace for GT3 in Q1, with a time of 2:02.390. He edged second placed Craft-Bamboo Alessio Picariello by 0.081s.
Mitch Gilbert of KINGS Racing shares the second row with the second Craft-Bamboo of Jazeman Jaafar.
Will Bamber, who was only recently confirmed for D2’s GT3 programme, finished less than 0.05s ahead of fellow Kiwi #911’s Team JRM Chris van der Drift.
FIST-Team AAI’s Jody Fannin in #91 and Kevin Chen in #92 will occupy the fourth row, ahead of YCRT’s #991 Lin Nan.
“It’s good to get pole during my first official outing for BMW. I wasn’t quite happy with my lap - thought it was a bit scrappy,” said Nick Yelloly.
In Q2, a “very happy” FIST-Team AAI’s Ivan Lee stormed to pole with 0.462s’ gap to the second placed Xu Jia. The reigning champion complained of an issue with the car from Friday morning. Craft-Bamboo racing team chairman Frank Yu took third ahead FIST’s sister car of Junsan Chen.
Jeffrey Lee of #88 Craft-Bamboo Racing and Min Heng of #991 YCRT will share the third row. Kuo Kuo Hsin of #2 D2 AMG and Li Chao of #911 Team JRM entry on the fourth.
#777 did not participate qualifying.
No one can match Evan Chen’s stunning pace in either sessions. The closest rival would be Daniel Lu of the YCRT #69 Porsche, who is 4s off the pace in P2 for Q1.
Teammate Zhang Dasheng follows in P3 ahead of Arrows Racing’s Kelvin Wong in fourth.
Evan set an even quicker time of 2:04.589 in Q2, and is evenly matched with GT3 pole times set by gentleman driver Ivan Lee.
The trio of Porsches of Zhou Bihuang’s YCRT #918, Jacky Wu’s YCRT #69 and Miguel Kong’s Arrows Racing #30 would occupy the remaining spots in the two front rows.
#75 was disqualified post race due to a technical infringement. #82, #9, #47, #119 and #307 did not participate in qualifying.
“This is the first time I’m using new tyres to set the time so today’s qualifying is a bit like testing for me. My pace is strong. I can almost match the GT3 BMW’s. I got pretty lucky as I didn't encounter traffic in Q1 and managed to slipstream another car in Q2,” said pole-sitter Evan Chen.
In Q1, Sennan Fielding of K2C Motorsports managed to pip Phantom Pro Racing’s Alex Fontana and Rainey He to pole on the final lap in a red flag interrupted qualifying session.
Rainey He was the early pace-setter, but the session was interrupted half way through when #12 entry broke down on track with oil and smoke coming out of its rear. The unsighted #10 Racing team 69 entry immediately lost control and slammed into the tyre wall upon stepped on the grease left by the #12. This incident caused the red flag and the session was delayed by around 45 minutes to repair the damaged barrier.
In the end, Fielding’s time of 2:14.271 was enough to push Fontana and He down to second and third, who finished 0.34s and 0.561s off the pace respectively.
Behind, youngster Yves Volte clocked a 2:15.831 to put the Asia Sonic Aston Martin Vantage on the second row ahead of D2’s #22 Will Bamber and KINGS’ #7 Mitch Gilbert.
Oscar Lee’s #51 FIST-Team AAI BMW M4, Yang Xi’s #3 Phantom Pro AMG, Dominc Ang’s #12 TopGun GT Lotus, and Wei Tianyi’s #87 Xtreme Motorsports KTM completes the top 10. Robert Webb’s #98 TopGun GT Lotus, and Zhang Fangxuan’s #619 Asia Sonic AMR will start 11th and 13th on Saturday. Racing Team 69’s #10 entry finished 12th but it is unlikely make the grid for this weekend due to extensive damage.
“Really Happy to get our first pole since joining China GT,” says K2C Motorsports’ Sennan Fielding. “This car seems to suit the Sepang circuit and is performing quite well. My teammate Kenny has also made a lot of improvement so we are might be able to fight for podium this year.”
Q2’s grid will see Sunny Wong and Rainey He’s #6 Phantom Pro AMR (2:16.505) on pole ahead of Liu Kai’s KTM that he shares with Wei Tianyi. Chris Chia’s impressive performance after 15 years’ hiatus from racing has put the #5 entry he shares with Fontana on P3.
18 year old Liao Yang put the #22 D2 AMG on the second row alongside Will Bamber. Behind, Yao Yanhao (#51 BMW), Kenny Chung (#55 Ginetta), Stanley Yang (#618 AMR), Xu Jia (#7 AMG), Yan Chuang (#3 AMG), Wu Pei (#619 AMR) and Eric Wong (#98 Lotus) finished in order. The #10 and #12 could not make a start from the incidents in Q1.
“The team is brand new but everyone really gelled together nicely over the past few months,” said pole man Sunny Wong. “Our pace is good and I want to thank the team for all the hard work for putting two cars in front for both races. My teammate Rainey and I have similar driving style, and he tipped me off for things to pay attention to on track since the incidents in Q1.”