GruppeM’s Mattschull and Buhk Take The Win In Buriram Race 2, While GT4 Victory Goes To Renger

GruppeM Racing carried forth their winning momentum from Saturday and scored double class victories in in Buriram’s second 60-minute race, maintaining their 2018 Blancpain GT Series Asia campaign’s almost perfect start. Alexander Mattschull and Maxi Buhk drove the #888 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in a dominant lights to flag leading run with over 26,000 fans cheering them on at Chang International Circuit, while Reinhold Renger scored his second GT4 victory of the weekend. FFF Racing Team by ACM’s Dennis Lind and Martin Kodric came second, while KCMG’s Florian Strauss and Edoardo Liberati gave Nissan its first overall podium result in the Blancpain GT Series Asia.

Less than 0.1 of a second separated Buhk and Tim Slade in qualifying; both drivers started on the front row and engaged in a tenacious duel through much of the first stint. Adderly Fong managed to briefly take second but dropped back down to fifth by the start of lap two, allowing the Mercedes-AMG and HubAuto Corsa Ferrari to break clear in front and continue their battle. Buhk managed to pull out an initial advantage, but by the first stint’s mid-point Slade was on his tail once again. The German held off the aggressively pursuing 488 GT3, and the Ferrari eventually fell back just before the pit window opened.

GruppeM’s strategy called for a late stop to allow their Pro driver time to open up a gap on the Am entries just behind. Mattschull thus rejoined the race with a comfortable 14 second lead, and this helped him hold the lead past the chequered flag. Following the pit-stops when Morris Chen took over, the HubAuto Corsa Pro/Am Ferrari slipped back when the Silver Cup competitors started to charge. FFF Racing’s Lind took over from Kodric in ninth and set off on a rapid push through the field, eventually finishing second and just 3.7 seconds behind Mattschull.

Strauss suffered a drive-through penalty in the opening stint for exceeding track limits, but managed to claw back up to 15th before pitting. Thereafter, Liberati’s pace – and a series of penalties slapped on competitors in the race’s closing stages – led to the #23 KCMG GT-R taking third place and completing the overall podium. Their sister car finished fourth, with Tsugio Matsuda having climbed from eighth to third in the first half of the race. Yuke Taniguchi had a series of entertaining battles on his hand after taking over at the pit-stops, first with Hiroshi Hamaguchi and then fellow KCMG competitor Liberati.

Martin Rump and Franky Cheng finished fifth for Absolute Racing after overcoming their five-second handicap for finishing third in Race 1, while Nick Foster and Leo Ye Hongli rounded out the top 6 after sustaining a drive-through penalty for exceeding track limits. Anthony Liu and Josh Burdon crossed the line in seventh place with their Absolute Racing Audi after serving a penalty. Home hero Sandy Stuvik and Shae Davies took eighth in the Craft-Bamboo Racing #911 Porsche 991 911 GT3 R, while the Phoenix Racing Asia Audi driven by Alex Yoong and Marchy Lee crossed the line in ninth place.

Marco Mapelli started 19th for FFF Racing and put in an incredible drive to take sixth place by the end of the first stint. However, an overly short pit-stop and the resulting stop/go penalty consigned him and co-driver Hamaguchi to 10th place. Markus Pommer and Patric Niederhauser also faced frustration when they had to contend with a drive-through penalty for unsafe release from the pits, on top of their 15 second success penalty for winning Race 1.

AMAC Motorsport’s Andrew Macpherson and Ben Porter also had a tough day with their Lamborghini facing several mechanical maladies,  before the JWD-Unixx Racing Team Porsche collided forced them to retire. Thus KCMG’s Takuya Shirasaka and Naoto Takeda had a clear run to the Am Cup win with their Audi R8 LMS GT3.

Reinhold Renger rounded out the weekend with a second consecutive GT4 class victory, crossing the finish line 24 seconds ahead of Ringo Chong and Gilles Vannelet’s Team iRace.Win Mercedes-AMG GT4. Ken Urata and Max Chen of BMW Team Studie completed Buriram’s GT4 podium. Renger started on the class pole position but was overtaken early by Takayuki Kinoshita, before retaking the lead just one lap later.

Renger started from pole but was initially overhauled by Studie’s  before reasserting his authority a lap later. The pair continued to run closely until the M4 was forced into early retirement with a technical issue. iRace.Win’s Vannelet was next to challenge GruppeM for the lead, with the French driver in sixth place before lap two and moving up to third shortly before the BMW retired. At the pit-stops, Renger’s 15 second success penalty handed Chong the class lead when he took over from Vannelet.

Vannelet managed to catch up to Chong and overtake him at the hairpin, thereafter holding the lead past the finish line. Urata and Chen brought the #82 Team Studie BMW home third in class to round out the podium, while Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin finished fourth for Craft-Bamboo Racing.