Phoenix Racing Asia’s Marchy Lee turned in one of the best drives of his long career to record the team’s maiden GT Asia Series victory at Buriram, the Hong Kong-based driver, together with rising Audi star Shaun Thong prevailing in the Thailand heat despite some strong competition right from the opening lap.
Carlo Van Dam stole the initial advantage from Thong during an intense qualifying session, the experienced Dutch driver taking the Singha Motorsport Ferrari 458 he shares with local hero Piti Bhirombhakdi to the top spot from Shuan Thong by a mere three one hundredths of a second. Ultimately the top six cars were separated by just half a second. The second qualifier saw another battle for the top of the timesheets, this time a repeat performance of what we witnessed in South Korea, with Marchy Lee and Anthony Liu going head-to-head separated by just hundredths of a second. In the end it was Liu who claimed the top spot, displacing Lee in the final seconds of the session for pole, with Lamborghini’s Andrea Amici third.
The action started from the opening lap of the first 60-minute race, with a penalty for the FFF Racing Lamborghini, whilst up front Carlo Van Dam held the field at bay. Davide Rizzo was the big mover early as Shaun Thong faded with a brake pressure issue, but the Italian Ferrari driver had a spin whilst battling for second. With Van Dam pitting from the lead to hand the car to Piti, Duncan Tappy took over the top spot before his stop. Sadly, despite rejoining with a comfortable lead, which he extended with every lap, Piti was forced to endure a drive-through penalty for leaving his pit bay too soon during the compulsory stop.
By that stage Marchy Lee had charged back through the field to catch and overtake the Bentley’s of Vutthikorn and Andrew Kim to claim an emphatic win for the Hong Kong-based team.
After Audi’s Marchy Lee and Shaun Thong put an end to the Bentley domination of the GT Asia Series during the opening race at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Ferrari opened their ledger in race two, with Anthony Liu and Davide Rizzo claiming an emotional victory over 2015 Thailand winner Duncan Tappy.
The fourth round of the championship was certainly a race of two halves, after an issue on circuit forced a lengthy Safety Car intervention mid-race, which all but destroyed the chances of points leader Jonathan Venter, as co-driver Fabian Hamprecht was unable to complete his compulsory pit stop until after the Safety Car returned to pit lane.
Ultimately a lengthy stop – by virtue of the parity penalty they endured for dominating the opening round in South Korea – eliminated the duo from contention, dropping Venter back behind new points leaders Liu and Rizzo in the standings.
In the GTC class, the battle continued between Porsche and Ferrari, and despite the performance deficit that the Maranello built machines felt they suffered, it was the turn of the prancing horse in round four, 2015 race winner Voravud Bhirombhakdi and new team-mate Tin Sritrai taking a popular win over the second of the Singha Motorsport backed cars – points leaders Bhurit Bhirombhakdi and Kantasak Kusiri.