OD Racing Team WRT’s start to the new Blancpain GT Series Asia season at Sepang International Circuit turned out to be a trying time for the team with an early retirement halting their effort in Race 1, while a start in the mid-field saw then ending the weekend seventh in terms of Championship points table. Their Audi R8 LMS GT3 was on good pace in Race 1 but lost out on a potential podium finish due to a coolant hose rupture which forced them to retire. In Race 2, Sepang’s harsh track temperatures forced Mitch Gilbert and Aditya Patel to set a more cautious pace.
Cornelius Ee, Director of OD Racing Team WRT said, “As you can see from what happened last year, one point was all it took to determine the Championship. So this weekend may not have been the best for us but we always look at the positives so every point collected is still very important in the Championship fight, which is still a long way to go.” Starting Race 1 in 6th place after struggling with their qualifying pace earlier in the weekend, the team’s prospects improved when Patel managed to secure third after only 15 minutes. Then the hose failure forced the team to retire.
Team Manager Ron Reichert said, “A part broke on the Audi that has never broken on any Audi on the planet” said . “Sometimes things comes together but this weekend for us we got it hard. We found the issue and changed it and hoped that today would be better but being 11th at the start was tough.” Starting Race 2 from 11th on the grid, Gilbert was caught up in the pack of cars battling for position right from the race’s opening stages. He put up a good fight, but Sepang’s intense heat was causing more rapid brake wear than usual, forcing him to maintain extra caution even as he battled to secure a better position. Consistent driving saw him maintain an ideal pace to pass the car over to Aditya Patel in 12th during a clean pit-stop session. Patel then set a steady pace and took two places, securing a 10th overall finish for the team.
Following the race, Gilbert said, “I thought we were making progress over the weekend but we just kept coming across issues. We still have some work to do and we have a month to figure out what to do for the next round.” Patel added, “We were struggling a bit but at least we weren’t struggling with the pace and we were fairly close to the rest of the Audis at least. Race 1 temperature was cooler which was probably why I could fight quite a bit before our race ended. Race 2, based on our earlier race pace, we thought we could but I guess the temperature got too hot for the car. What can you do?”
“At least we managed a point scoring weekend. Yesterday we would’ve scored six or seven points or more. When we have a tough weekend like this, we just have to make sure that we keep scoring points for the Championship,” Gilbert concluded. With the rest of the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Asia season still ahead of them, the team are keeping up positive spirits even as they undertake preparations for the next race weekend at Thailand’s Chang International Circuit on the 12-13th of May.