The second round of the Blancpain GT Series Asia proved to be a successful one for FFF Racing by ACM with the team securing the runner-up position in the second race at Chang International Circuit on Sunday (13 May, 2018) to lead the drivers’ championship with Martin Kodric and Dennis Lind. To cap off a successful weekend, Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Marco Mapelli also took the lead of the Pro-Am standings off the back of two strong finishes.
The opening race of the weekend on Saturday held great promise for the team with Lind lining up in fifth position on the grid in the #19 Lamborghini Huracan and Hamaguchi in 11th in the sister #63 entry, fourth in the Pro-Am class.
Lind made a great start and to gain a position into the first turn and an aggressive opening lap brought results as he passed #27 Ye and #86 Patel to run in second position behind the leading #999 entry. Lind kept the pressure on the leader throughout the opening stint, maintaining a gap of less than four seconds before pitting and handing over to Kodric.
The pitstop from the FFF Racing team saw the gap to Markus Pommer in the leading car further reduced and the Croatian driver was able to make the pass for the lead on lap 27 with 15 minutes remaining. Unfortunately, the series imposed a drive through penalty on the #19 entry as it was deemed to break the minimum 90-second pitstop time by a tenth of a second. Kodric duly served the penalty and that took away an almost certain overall victory for the team and dropped them to fifth position.
Hamaguchi meanwhile made gains throughout his stint, including three positions in the first three laps and handed his #63 Lamborghini over to Mapelli in a strong position. The Italian put in another solid performance as he made gains to take the chequered flag in fourth position, just ahead of Kodric. And more importantly recorded the Pro-Am victory for the team.
“The drive through penalty was really unfortunate,” said team owner Sean Fu Songyang. “We were one-tenth too short on the minimum time, but that’s the rule. It’s such a shame as it cost us an overall win. For the rest, we did a good job to finish fourth and fifth and Hiroshi wins his Pro-Am class which is amazing, so really happy with the result with the #63 car.”
The second race brought another strong result with Kodric and Lind working their way thought the field to finish in a competitive second position overall, while a penalty for Hamaguchi and Mapelli dropped them to tenth position from third.
The race started with Kodric lining up ninth in the #19 Lamborghini, with Mapelli 19th in the #63. Mapelli was on the move from the green flag, moving all the way up to fifth position before pitting mid-distance. Hamaguchi continued the momentum, running third until the closing stages before taking a penalty for a pit stop time infringement.
Kodric meanwhile consolidated his position in the opening stages of the race, picking off rivals ahead of his stop before handing over to Lind who resumed in a strong sixth position. Posting a series of fast laps, Lind closed the gap to teammate Hamaguchi before moving second in the closing stages of the race. Not content with second he set about closing the gap to the leading #888 entry, taking the chequered flag just three seconds adrift in what was another impressive performance from the team and drivers.
“To finish tenth overall for Hiroshi was a disappointment as they should have finished up the order and gained a lot of points in the championship battle,” Sean Fu Songyang continued. “On the positive, the cars had amazing pace in the race and the drivers did a great job and the main thing is that we’re leading overall with Lind and Kodric, and leading the Silver class, while Hiroshi and Mapelli are leading the Pro-Am class which is all positive.
“We’re also working ever-closer with Lamborghini and the relationship is proving to be successful on and off the circuit.”
The next round of the championship takes place at Suzuka, Japan on 30 June to 1 July.