Otojatim- Prince Jefri Ibrahim and Nick Foster won the season opening Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS race at Sepang on 21st May after Triple Eight JMR’s #99 Mercedes-AMG picked its way through from fifth on the grid.
EBM Giga Racing’s Porsches shared by Adrian D’Silva and Earl Bamber, and Setiawan Santoso and Reid Harker – who set fastest lap – completed the podium at the expense of Yogibo’s pole-winning Ferrari, which lost its seven-second lead due to a slow tyre change.
Naoki Yokomizo led the field into Turn 1 and proceeded to pull away from a chasing pack initially headed by Prince Abu Ibrahim who, along with David Pun and Yasser Shahin, jumped D’Silva’s front row starting Porsche on the opening lap.
The Ferrari’s extra Silver class ballast didn’t prevent Yokomizo from establishing a seven-second lead over the chasing Am drivers before the pit window opened, although his cause was undoubtedly helped by two of the leading contenders hitting trouble. Prince Abu Ibrahim made an unscheduled pitstop to remedy a mechanical issue while Pun's Elf Bar Racing Team X Works R8 retired on-track as a result of damage sustained during a clash with D’Silva.
That left Shahin’s Audi Sport Asia Team X Works entry as the Ferrari’s primary rival, and the Australian was able to peg the gap at seven seconds before handing over to Sandy Stuvik as soon as the pit window opened after 25 minutes.
Prince Jefri Ibrahim, meanwhile, trailed the Audi by seven seconds when he pitted on the same lap. But Triple Eight JMR’s smart pit work ensured their Mercedes-AMG re-joined right on Stuvik’s tail and in a position to pass halfway around the same lap. Foster duly obliged.
Back at the front Yogibo’s Ferrari should have emerged from its stop with at least some of its advantage intact. But a tyre change dropped Shogo Mitsuyama not only behind Foster and Stuvik but also the EBM Porsches that had run fourth and fifth in the hands of D’Silva and Santoso before pitting.
That became second and third by the chequered flag after Stuvik – who was passed by Bamber – retired his Audi.
Harker’s fastest lap underlined the 911’s pace, while Bamber chipped away at but never threatened Foster’s lead despite driving with bent steering – a consequence of the car’s earlier contact.
Mitsuyama initially went wheel-to-wheel with Ben Porter in AMAC’s Am class Porsche before easing clear to finish fourth ahead of the 911 and Jazeman Jaafar whose Triple Eight JMR Mercedes-AMG lost almost a lap due to Ibrahim’s early unscheduled pitstop.
However on 22nd May, Adrian D’Silva and Earl Bamber overcome their 10-second Success Penalty to triumph in the second Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS race at Sepang.
EBM Giga Racing’s Porsches were denied a one-two by Triple Eight JMR’s Prince Abu Ibrahim and Jazeman Jaafar whose Mercedes-AMG pulled clear of Setiawan Santoso and Reid Harker’s 911 during the second stint.
Finishing as runners-up in Saturday’s race meant EBM’s #11 crew would remain stationary for an additional 10 seconds during their mandatory pitstop. Some of that extra time would be countered by the likes of Triple Eight JMR’s #99 Mercedes-AMG and #8 911, which incurred respective 15 and five-second Success Penalties for finishing first and third yesterday.
And it was those two cars that initially gave chase after Jaafar, who shared the front row with pole-sitter Bamber, dropped to fourth at Turn 1.
However, none of them could live with the pace of Bamber who set fastest lap and effectively overcame the Success Penalty by establishing a 10-second lead at one-third distance.
His efforts were helped somewhat by Race 1 winner Foster struggling with his Mercedes-AMG’s balance whilst still managing to keep Harker and Jaafar at bay. The trio trailed Bamber by 11.5s when the pit window opened after 25 minutes, although all of the leading contenders elected to continue for at least another five.
The extra 15 seconds immediately dropped Foster’s co-driver Prince Jefri Ibrahim out of podium contention, while the five-second difference between EBM’s #8 Porsche and Triple Eight JMR’s #888 Mercedes-AMG helped Prince Abu Ibrahim leapfrog Santoso during the pit cycle.
However, both were approximately 10 seconds behind D’Silva who initially added to the advantage Bamber had built. It was down to 4.1s by the chequered flag thanks to Ibrahim’s speed and D’Silva easing back over the final 10 minutes.
Santoso’s initial challenge for second waned as the stint progressed but the Porsche he shares with Harker still made it two third places from as many races.
Behind, Yogibo Racing’s Ferrari featuring Shogo Mitsuyama and Naoki Yokomizo finished fourth after the latter passed both Prince Jefri Ibrahim and Yasser Shahin during the second stint. The latter and his co-driver Sandy Stuvik looked set to finish fifth before an unserved one-second stop-go penalty for being under the minimum pitstop time resulted in a 32-second post-race penalty, which dropped Audi Sport Asia Team X Works’ entry behind Triple Eight JMR in the final classification.
Next up it’s Suzuka where at least 24 cars are set to contest rounds three and four on July 15-17. The event also doubles as the first of four Fanatec Japan Cup weekends.