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GT3 Asia: Series Autopolis race one report

Choo Wins Round 11 as Hammam Takes Championship Lead It was a neck and neck finish for Round 11 of the GT3 Asia, where Melvin Choo took the win in his first race with the series. Choo crossed the line just centimetres ahead of the new...

Choo Wins Round 11 as Hammam Takes Championship Lead

It was a neck and neck finish for Round 11 of the GT3 Asia, where Melvin Choo took the win in his first race with the series. Choo crossed the line just centimetres ahead of the new Championship leader, Tunku Hammam in a battle filled race.

For Choo, the win was a great group effort "It was excellent. I'm happy to be here today and I would like to thank my sponsors, especially my Japanese sponsors, Raybrigs. They have been great supporters, this win is for them".

"Naturally I had to be careful but I also knew that Hammam had to be careful too, even more than I did. We had a good race, it worked out well and it was almost a photo finish, everyone panicked a little" he laughed.

For Hammam, although he was not able to get the win, taking the Championship lead with just one race to go was great. "I'm very pleased with the result and I am leading the Championship" said a beaming Hammam.

Choo and Hammam were fighting for position right from the start of the race, with Hammam leading for the first two laps before being overtaken by the Singaporean. From there Hammam kept right on Choo's tail and they changed positions two more times before crossing the line almost side by side at the chequered flag.

"I think on the third or fourth lap, Melvin went on the inside, I had no room and had to give him way, but I was very close to him. On the tenth lap on turn 11, I passed him but I made a mistake on turn 15 or 16, where I went a bit wide so Melvin took me back.

"I didn't want to take any risks because the Championship is at stake and Melvin is not a contender. I thought I'll stay with him and if there's an opportunity, I'll try and win. Then again he was fast today and second is very good" said Hammam.

Eddie Yau Junior took third for Team Machine as Frank Yu, who ran third for the first half of the race, spun out on lap eight.

The Hong Kong driver drove a fantastic race and managed to keep his cool despite the pressures from the trio of Eric Cheung, Francis Tjia and Sui Yuk Lung behind him.

"I had a tough time trying to get the tyres up to temperature. I started in seventh and I had a really good start and was up to third at one point in time but I don't know what happened if it was me or the car they pulled away from me. I then had cars behind me and I was pressured the whole way.

Asked if he has a chance to get back on the podium for tomorrow, "I will try my best, there is a possibility. Autopolis is a great circuit, the best so far and if I have a chance I would certainly come back again".

Yu finished the race in sixth and although disappointed with the outcome, he is looking forward to the final race tomorrow. "I was at the hairpin and all of a sudden Tunku and Melvin slowed down a little bit, I tapped on the brake and the back just came loose and I spun out. Fortunately I rejoined the race but on the same lap, because the tyres were dirty, I went out again. There was just no grip, it was my mistake.

But I had a really good fight for the first seven laps and if I didn't spin, one more lap I would have been able to pass Tunku, just one more lap" he ended.

Fourth placed finisher, Francis Tjia credited luck, good and bad, for his finish and has now climbed up the Championship leaderboard to second. "My qualifying was a disaster, I was on a really really fast lap and I had to pass a back marker and I got a little bit off line and ended up spinning out, which is a shame because I think we would have been close to pole.

"Then at the start of the race, my teammate broke a drive shaft, which made me ninth, then it was a long battle. One of the Ginettas spun as well, so eighth, then the rest was passing people. I finished fourth and I am happy with it, it could have been a lot worse".

Siu Yuk Lung finished fifth, ten seconds ahead of Yu who was followed across the line by Akira Mizutani and Shogo Amamoto of Direction Racing. The duo, claimed the podiums for the GT4 series along with Christian Chia whose ninth placed finish almost secures his Championship title in the class.

Chia was happy with both the race and the results. He was also very impressed with his Japanese rivals. "The race was very exciting. Adrian, Amamoto and myself were dicing all the way through the race. It was just back and forth and it was a tight race, very tiring.

"I'm very happy. I was hoping for a solid finish to the season and the plan worked out. The Japanese drivers are formidable competitors and I have much respect for them".

Eric Cheung, Adrian Fu, Sasha Chu and Marcel Tjia completed the list of finishers for the day. Samson Chan was running in eighth before he crashed into the tyre barrier on lap eleven. David Lai, Gen Emoto and Siu Tit Lung all spun out and were unable to continue the race.

The Shen brothers, Wayne and John, from Modena Motorsport, both suffered from the same problem with broken drive shafts right before the start of the race,. As for Noel Becker, the Team SPS Racing driver did not start the race due to a transmission problem.

-credit: afos

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About this article
Series GT
Drivers Melvin Choo , Frank Yu , Akira Mizutani , Eric Cheung , Samson Chan , Christian Chia , Francis Tjia , Marcel Tjia