Audis on top early in GT Asia Series Shanghai showdown
GT Asia Series arrives in Shanghai with the most competitive field of the season
It has been billed as an epic round of the GT Asia Series, and with good reason. Already 2016 has proven to be the most competitive season on record, the addition of some impressive new entries has only bolstered that reputation, and after official practice at Shanghai International Circuit, there’s next to nothing separating the top teams heading into qualifying.
In fact all seven marques are separated by just eight tenths of a second around the 5.451-kilometre Formula One venue, and whilst Audi can perhaps claim credit for topping all three sessions, their margin of advantage is too slight to lay down any predictions.
Audi emerge as the fastest team
Interestingly it was two-time 2016 race winner Marchy Lee who topped the opening session, punching out an impressive 2:05.796 in the opening laps of the first session, just eight one thousandths faster than his Phoenix Racing Asia team-mate Alex Yoong, the two Audi veterans laying down the gauntlet for their rivals, who were ultimately unable to match them.
That experience - especially of the Shanghai circuit - was the feature of day one, the local stars and experienced GT Asia Series crews the ones who emerged on top at the conclusion of the three 60-minute sessions. In the end, despite some spirited driving and some qualifying simulations late in the day, Lee’s opening session best was the fastest of the day, Yoong retaining P2 overall, whilst their Nurburgring 24-Hour team-mate Franky Cheng in the Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS, was fastest in sessions two and three to finish fourth fastest for the day.
37 degree celsius
Teams now prepare for qualifying at 9:40am (CST time) on Saturday morning with two 15-minute sessions separated by a ten minute break, ahead of the opening round in China at 4:05pm, in the peak of the heat of the day where temperatures are expected to hit 37 degrees with some chance of an afternoon storm. Round ten (race two at Shanghai) will be held at 2:00 on Sunday afternoon, with increasing chances that thunderstorms will hit during the day.
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