Li Zhi Cong of Asia Racing Team wins podium finish at Autopolis: Titlr hopes dim
Li Zhi Cong of Asia Racing Team has put up a spectacular performance at the Japan Autopolis International Circuit getting the team once again back…
These alterations on schedule saw teams change their strategy. Li Zhi Cong did not take part in Thursday’s two hour testing session and hence he had two Free Practice session on Friday which left him little time to learn the techniques of the track. Asia Racing Team was placed on 7th and 14th place on Saturday’s events and Round 1 took place with very wet weather conditions.
Li Zhi Cong was not elated with his performance but said that he did learn a lot driving under these extreme conditions. He now gets set for the next race to be held in Macau and will be the only Chinese driver in the series and hence expects to do his best to bring honor to his country. He is now second on championship ratings as it heads into November’s season finale.
Auto news release: Li Zhi Cong secures a podium finish on a rough weekend at Autopolis
Li Zhi Cong has put Asia Racing Team back on the podium in the GT Asia Series Rnd 9 & 10 at Japan’s 4.673km Autopolis International Circuit, but the young Chinese racer title hopes are now slim after not finishing the first race of the weekend.
Due to the rough weather conditions caused by typhoon Jelawat, the GT Asia Series organizers have decided on Saturday to bring forward the two races scheduled for the weekend. The scheduled Qualifying session ended up being replaced with Round 9, and Sunday’s Round 10 race was brought forward to Saturday, replacing Round 9. This unexpected change of schedule forced a change in the team’s strategy for the weekend.
Team Manager Philippe Descombes explained, “Obviously, the decision to cancel the qualifying and anticipate the races did not help us. Li did not take part in Thursday’s two-hour testing session so he was left with the two Free Practice sessions on Friday to learn the track. Autopolis is very technical track, and complicated to master in an hour.”
The Asia Racing Team drivers lined up 7th and 14th on Saturday morning grid, for a wet race that was started behind the safety car.
Race 1 took place under treacherous conditions, and the few spectators saw Li fighting hard to take as many points as possible. The youngest driver in the series quickly moved up to 5th but his race abruptly ended when he tried an overtaking maneuver on the inside of the Ford GT3 of Frank Yu on lap 10 at turn 11, ending up on the gravel and bringing out the safety car until the last lap of the race.
Meanwhile series returnee Sasha Chu started at a steady pace without taking risks and focused his efforts on reaching the finish. The Hong Kong driver crossed the finish line in 10th.
With not much to lose, Li had a spectacular Race 2 start, finishing third after starting the race at the back of the grid. The Guangzhou native was already behind biggest rival in title race in third midway through the opening lap, a position he held all the way to the end of the race.
Teammate Chu did not take part of the second heat.
Speaking about his weekend, Li said, “It was not a good weekend for me in Autopolis, but I leant a lot about driving in the wet. I want to thanks my team and my driver coach for all their hard work under this weather conditions. Next race will be in Macau and as only Chinese driver in the series, I will do my best to honour my country.”
Descombes, added, “It was not an easy weekend for us. First Li lost the Thursday testing, and then Saturday’s Qualifying was cancelled. In Race 1 he was too brave trying to overtake Frank, and in Race 2 he did the best he could have done. Mathematically we can still be champions, but now its out of our hands. The pressure is on at every single race but we still try to raise our level for Macau. Obviously we will have a lot of supporters there and we want to give them something they can be proud of, which gives us extra motivation.”
Li Zhi Cong now lies second on the championship leaderboard heading into November’s season finale held as part of the Macau GT Cup at the 59th Macau Grand Prix with eleven points down to Mok Weng Sun (Ferrari).