Nick Yelloly and Lin Yu benefitted from a safety car period to take their #90 FIST Team AAI BMW to victory in round 10 of the 2019 China GT championship in Tianjin.
Yelloly himself indirectly caused the introduction of the safety car after his BMW and Xiao Min’s Lamborghini made contact, leaving the damaged #186 car stranded in a dangerous position. The safety car then bunched the pack up, allowing Yelloly to rapidly close on the cars in front and then pick his way through them once racing resumed.
Joe Osborne started round 10 on pole position in his #111 The Winning Team McLaren 720s, leading away from Jesse Krohn in the #91 FIST Team AAI BMW and Alessio Picariello in the #88 Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes, with the front three soon racing away from the chasing pack at a rate of over two seconds per lap.
Having won yesterday’s round 9, Osborne’s car was saddled with 50kg of success ballast, and Krohn passed the McLaren at the T11 hairpin, with Picariello also making his way past the McLaren at the same point several laps later.
Eager to build up as much of a lead before the mid-race driver change, Krohn soon lapped up to two seconds per lap quicker than Osborne and Picariello, but his efforts came to nought when the safety car came out just as he handed over to teammate Betty Chen.
When the lights went green again, Chen was swiftly passed by Osborne’s teammate Han Han and Yelloly, with those two soon settling into their own private battle for the lead. Despite Han Han’s best efforts, Yelloly’s superior experience soon told, and the Briton edged into a lead he was not to lose for the rest of the race.
Han Han duly took a fine second place, to give him and Osborne a record of two wins and two second places from four races since joining the 2019 China GT championship. Jeffrey Lee took third place after taking over the #88 Mercedes from Picariello. Betty Chen’s #91 BMW crossed the line fourth, ahead of the #66 YC Racing Mercedes of Min Heng and Lin Nan. The third FIST Team AAI BMW of Ivan Lee and Kevin Chen rounded out the GT3 finishers in sixth place.
The GTC category was won by the #75 YC Racing Lamborghini of CJ Huang and Wang Tao, ahead of teammates and championship leaders Zhou Bihuang and Zheng Wenchang in their #918 Lamborghini. Shang Lei took third in class in his #82 Lamborghini. Zhou Bihuang wrapped up GTC Drivers’ title with two rounds to spare.
Non-finishers included Peter Liao in his #2 D2 Mercedes, Dominic Ang and Song Bo in the #25 Xtreme Motorsports Radical RXC, and the #186 Lamborghini of Xiao Min and Li Jiaqi, which retired after contact with Yelloly.
David Pun and Ross Gunn scorched the #618’s first win for the new AMR Vantage and BSEM Aston Martin Racing team in the 2019 China GT season in Tianjin on Sunday. Will Bamber and Kuo Kuo Hsin took D2’s second podium of the weekend ahead of third-placed Wang Hao.
Ross Gunn has been recalled to China GT duty since 2017. The Aston Martin factory driver shot into the lead in the new 2019 spec Vantage GT4 never looked back.
Will Bamber started from the second row but also quickly vaulted the pole-sitter Alex Fontana – whose #5 AMG is among the heaviest on the grid due to Saturday’s 50kg success ballast, and Charlie Fagg – whose McLaren has been struggling for pace all weekend. The New Zealander followed Gunn at a gap of 2 to 3 seconds until driver change, while Fagg and Fontana fell back from the leading duo scraping for position.
Fagg narrowly fend off Fontana in third before driver change and came into the Winning Team garage two laps earlier than the Swiss driver. Dong Liang took over but soon had Wang Hao for company, as the latter had a much shorter pit stop time.
Struggling with tyre wear and brakes, Dong Liang’s pace dropped and Wang Hao muscled past him to take the final podium position, making contact in the process. Both cars survived but Dong Liang’s left front suffered damage. To add insult to injury, he was overtaken by Rainey He for fourth on very last lap on a Sunday that had shown much promise.
Saturday’s race-winning #5 machine spent a long time during the pitstop and dropped out of podium contention. The championship leading duo of Alex Fontana and Chris Chia finished sixth ahead of #17 FIST-Team AAI’s Qi Peiwen. #87 KTM of Gao Yang and Wei Tianyi suffered an issue towards the closing moments of the race and finished three laps down. Sadly for the second Winning Team #868 machine, their car ground to a halt at T3 with only two laps to go.