2019 China GT Ningbo R3 Race Report
Nick Yelloly and Lam Yu scored the second victory of the 2019 China GT season for the #90 FIST-Team AAI entry at the Ningbo International Circuit and extended their championship lead. EWS Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Frank Yu and Jazeman Jaafar finished five seconds down the road in P2, ahead of TORO Racing’s Eric Zang and Adam Christodoulou.
Pole-sitter Eric Zang started well ahead of the chasing pack, but a few minor mistakes relegated him to P7 when his stint finished. His first mistake lost him three positions to Pro-rated drivers Jody Fannin (FIST #91), and Darryl O’Young (EWS Craft-Bamboo’s #88), and then a second BMW of Kevin Chen. Looking to make up for lost time, Zang pressured Chen for a number of laps, but ran wide again to let Chen and Lam Yu by. Finally, a spin on the tight downhill section at T16 finally sealed Zang’s position in seventh before the driver changes.
Fannin was blisteringly quick in the first stint, setting fastest laps and assuming the lead within a couple of laps of the start from P5 on the grid. He handed the car over to teammate Betty Chen with a seven second lead over O’Young in second.
In the second stint, Pro drivers Nick Yelloly, Jazeman Jaafar and Adam Christodoulou put on a fantastic battle for the podium places. The three drivers were evenly matched after taking over from their respective gentleman drivers Lam Yu, Frank Yu, and Eric Zang, who pitted from fifth, sixth and seventh places respectively. Once out on track, the three Pros cut through the pack like a hot knife through butter, and ultimately finished in that order in the top three.
Betty Chen, after taking over from Jody Fannin, managed her pace incredibly well for someone with her limited race experience, only losing positions to Yelloly, Jazeman and Christodoulou for the majority of her stint. Unfortunately for her, a problem at the last corner on the final lap resulted in the #91 car’s retirement.
The #2 D2 Racing entry of Kuo Kuo Hsin and Peter Liao finished fourth after a commendable drive. Kuo battled Eric Zang and Lam Yu throughout his stint, and Liao showed impressive pace on his GT3 debut.
Jeffrey Lee in the #88 EWS Craft-Bamboo AMG finished fifth ahead of the third FIST-Team AAI BMW of Ivan Lee and Kevin Chen, and YC Racing’s Min Heng and Lin Nan.
Liu Kai claimed the GTC victory alongside teammate Lo Szeho for Xtreme Motorsports. YC Racing’s Wang Tao and CJ Huang turned their luck around in Ningbo and finished on the second step of the podium ahead of Dominic Ang and Song Bo.
Song Bo started on pole but struggled on this twisty, undulating circuit, dropping to P4 behind Wang Tao’s #75 Lamborghini, Liu Kai’s #68 Radical and Zhou Bihuang’s #918 Lamborghini. However he managed to recover a position when Zhou spun on the left-hander at T10.
Liu Kai trailed Wang Tao for a few laps before overtaking and handing the car to Lo. The Hong Kong driver had just come off the back of a win in the morning GT4 race and maintained the class lead until the finish line.
Zhou Bihuang’s spin demoted the YC Racing duo to fourth. They finished ahead of Racing Team 69’s Cui Yue and Lawrence Liu.
One-make Trophy Class
In the one-make trophy category for Porsche 911 Cup cars, the #10 entry of Ben Rouget and Simon Chan took the spoils, finishing one lap ahead of Jacky Wu and Daniel Lu in the #69 car, which had to make an unscheduled pit stop early on, and later in the race was slapped with a 60 second penalty for failing to observe the correct procedure during the mandatory pit stop window. The #52 entry of Steve Yin pulled into the pits to retire on lap 12 with a mechanical issue.
Will Bamber and Peter Liao scored D2 Racing’s first win of the season in a safety car-interrupted race ahead of Xtreme Motorsports’ Ling Kang and Lo Szeho, and Team Master Champ’s Wang Hao.
Both James Cai and Alex Fontana had storming starts, out-dragging pole-sitter Lo Szeho on a long run to the first braking point of Turn 2. Towards the back, Rainey He also started well from P4, but ran wide at the T2 left-hander and dropped back.
As the race settled, Alex Fontana led Pro drivers Will Bamber and Yves Volte, but his lead evaporated when a suspected puncture sent the #5 Phantom Pro car back into the pits and dropped him down the order.
The top three of Bamber, Volte and Lo began to build a gap to the rest. Further back, Dong Liang in the #570 McLaren engaged in a multi-lap battle with Rainey He’s #6 AMG for P4, while James Cai in the #49 McLaren and Wang Hao in the #999 BMW duelled it out for P6. In the end, the more experienced He led the car back in fourth ahead of Dong, who fended off a charging Wang Hao while Cai dropped back.
The second half of the race was full of drama and interrupted by two safety cars. The first was triggered by the #619 stopping on track; a few laps later, a second one was deployed after the #51 of Yao Yuanhao slammed hard into the wall, after being spooked by a pirouetting #6 car right in front of him.
The cars took the chequered flag behind the second safety car, and Peter Liao narrowly held onto the lead against a charging Ling Kang. Wang Hao made up a further two positions after the pit stops and scored the final podium position for the debuting Team Master Champ.
Dong Liang finished fourth while Alex Fontana and Chris Chia salvaged fifth. Charlie Fagg and James Cai in the #49 Winning Team McLaren, Liu Kai and Wei Tianyi in the #87 Xtreme Motorsports, Sunny Wong and Rainey He in the #6 Phantom Pro Racing AMG, Yang Xi and Yan Chuang in the #3 sister AMG, and Yves Volte and David Pun in the #618 Asia Sonic AMR completed the points-paying positions.
#618 had crossed the line in fourth but a time penalty for a pit stop infringement dropped it down to P10.