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Absolute Racing and D1 Racing Team take overall victory apiece in Malaysia
The Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia made a dazzling return with a sensational season-opener at Malaysia’s 5.543km Sepang International Circuit. The international field of PRO, PRO-AM, AM and Lamborghini Cup drivers fought for glory over two enthralling races, as the series’ signature brand of hard and fair racing made a welcome return to the race tracks of Asia.
Winning high praise from both drivers and teams was the third-generation Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo, the EVO2 making its Asian debut in Malaysia, while the Hankook tyres also performed superbly under variable conditions which ranged from searing heat to a race track drenched by a tropical downpour.
After a rain-delayed start, a thrilling season-opening race was won by the Absolute Racing PRO pairing of defending champion Chris van der Drift and exciting new young gun Marco Giltrap. Pole-sitter Dan Wells took the PRO-AM victory - second overall - with D1 Racing Team mate Oscar Lee, while SQDA-GRIT Motorsport claimed the AM win on their series debut. It was also the first-ever international race for Korean duo Brian Lee and John Kwon, making the achievement even more remarkable amongst a strong entry of AM drivers. The first Lamborghini Cup win of the season went to class pole-sitter Supachai Weeraborwornpong of Siamgas Corse.
Wells and Lee went one better in race two, taking the overall and PRO-AM wins, beating race one winners van der Drift and Giltrap who took PRO honours. D1 Racing Team added an AM win to their overall and PRO-AM victories, with Tse Ka Hing putting in a tremendous solo drive to take the class honours. Lamborghini Cup pole-man Kumar Prabakaran took his first class win with his new Iron Lynx team.
After two of 12 races, van der Drift and Giltrap lead the PRO standings from Chen Wei’an and Xu Shenghui, while Dan Wells and Oscar Lee top the PRO-AM leaderboard with an eight-point lead over Tony and Jackson Walls. Two pole positions, a podium and a top-ten finish put Thai pair Aniwat Lommahadthai and Pasarit Promsombat in the lead of the AM standings, but Tse Ka Hing trails by a mere three points after his race two class win. Johnson Huang and Vincent Tai are just a single point behind Tse in what promises to be a closely-contested category.
A podium and a win puts Kumar Prabakaran at the top of the Lamborghini Cup standings, two points ahead of Supachai Weeraborwornpong, with Ma Chi Min and Vong Keng Fai in third. Absolute Racing leads the Team classification by a narrow margin over D1 Racing Team.
The battle for the 2023 titles continues when the season resumes next month and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia makes its Australian debut at The Bend Motorsport Park in Adelaide from June 9-11.
D1 Racing Team’s Dan Wells took the first overall pole position for the season ahead of fellow PRO-AM entry Jackson Walls of the Objective Racing team. Absolute Racing’s Pasarit Promsombat was the top AM qualifier, locking in a P4 start, while Supachai Weeraborwornpong was the fastest Lamborghini Cup qualifier.
A pre-race downpour delayed the start, raising the tension ahead of the season-opener. The field was led off the grid by the safety car, some drivers opting to remain on wet weather tyres and others taking their chances on slicks. Pole-sitter Wells controlled the start when the safety car peeled off, but Walls kept him within striking distance, with Absolute Racing’s Marco Giltrap giving chase.
Promsombat defended well in P4, despite a fierce early challenge from Racegraph’s Mikko Nässi, but was eventually overtaken by fellow AM contender Tse Ka Hing of D1 Racing Team who had started from P7. Promsombat now not only had to defend from a determined Nässi, but also from Vortex Orion Endurance driver Benjamin Rouget. The Frenchman thundered past the Thai to snatch fifth, and eventually succumbed to the Finn, dropping to P7.
Like Tse, another driver who had made major gains was Triple Ace Racing’s Henry K, who had started from the back of the pack having been forced to switch cars following an incident in qualifying, and was up to P8 ahead of TRT Racing’s Kang Zhilong and team mate Li Qiang. However, Li had 50 seconds added to his pit stop for an infringement of the race start procedure.
Drama struck when Harmony Racing’s Xu Shenghui ran wide at turn one, and came to a halt trackside at the exit of turn three. This brought out the safety car with just over 30 minutes remaining on the clock.
The safety car pulled in as the pit window opened and Wells led the field away, but Giltrap pitted almost immediately from P3 to hand the wheel to defending champion Chris van der Drift. Walls elected to stay out and refused to let Wells run away with the race. The early pit stop paid off for the Absolute Racing duo though, with van der Drift grabbing the race lead once Wells pitted to hand over to Oscar Lee.
Jonathan Cecotto took over from Li Qiang and was up to P2 in the TRT Racing Lamborghini when the team was handed a 49-second stop and go penalty an insufficient pit stop. The Triple Ace Racing team was given a two second penalty, and Racegraph a one second penalty for the same infringement, while Lamborghini Cup entry Kam Lung Racing was penalized for exceeding the pit lane speed limit.
With less than ten minutes remaining on the clock, van der Drift was still flying out in front, hammering out fastest sector times and increasing his margin over Cecotto, who had yet to take his stop and go penalty. Behind the pair, Iron Lynx driver Loh Lean Shen was up to third in the order, taking the lead of the AM runners ahead of Oscar Lee, Absolute Racing’s Aniwat Lommahadthai and SQDA – GRIT Motorsport’s John Kwon in P6. Minutes later though, Kwon stormed up to P4 behind Loh before making a massive move on the inside to take the third on the road, and setting off to hunt down Lee, getting by him at turn four and claiming the AM lead.
At the flag, van der Drift took the overall and PRO win for Absolute Racing, marking a maiden series victory for team mate Giltrap. Cecotto was second on the road, but the TRT Racing entry was subsequently disqualified for failure to take their penalty.
Brian Lee and team mate Kwon took a sensational AM victory on their Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia debut, second overall in the final classification in what was the first-ever international race for both drivers. The Absolute Racing Thai duo of Aniwat Lommahadthai and Pasarit Promsombat were second in the AM class, third overall. Pole-sitter Dan Wells and Oscar Lee took the PRO-AM win, fourth overall.
The Lamborghini Cup win went to Supachai for Siamgas Corse, ahead of one-time race leader Kumar Prabakaran. The HZO Fortis Racing Team pair of Hairie and Haziq Zairel Oh finished third in class.
Chinese PRO driver Chen Wei’an took pole position for race two in the Harmony Racing Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO2, with race one AM winner John Kwon of the Korean SQDA-GRIT Motorsport squad lined up alongside for the start of the second 50-minute contest of the weekend. Race one PRO-AM winner Oscar Lee lined up on row two for D1 Racing Team, while Iron Lynx’s Kumar Prabakaran was the best-qualifying of the Lamborghini Cup class.
Chen blasted off the start and headed off to pull a gap from the chasing pack, this time on a dry track. Behind him, Iron Lynx AM driver Mark Darwin made a strong getaway to climb to P2 ahead of Kwon, while Absolute Racing’s Aniwat Lommahadthai dropped down the order from his P4 grid position.
TRT Racing’s Jonathan Cecotto and Absolute Racing’s Chris van der Drift made short work of picking their way up through the field from P17 and 18, respectively, to go third and fourth in the order after just ten minutes of racing.
Minutes later, and just as the pair had both passed Darwin and into provisional podium position, the safety car was called out when the Lamborghini Cup HZO Fortis Racing Team car of Hairie Zairel Oh ran wide and spun, sustaining damage and stopping at the side of the track.
Just as it had in race one, the safety car pulled off as the pit window opened, with Cecotto immediately challenging Chen off the restart before snatching the race lead and pulling away. Chen next faced a challenge from van der Drift, defending well before diving into the pits to hand the wheel to Xu Shenghui.
After a flurry of driver changes, van der Drift’s team mate Marco Giltrap emerged in the lead, hotly pursued by D1 Racing Team’s Dan Wells who had taken the wheel from AM team mate Oscar Lee, while Cecotto’s team mate Li Qiang dropped to third ahead of AM leader Pasarit Promsombat.
Wells quickly found a way past Giltrap, pulling out a gap of more than two seconds but, with just 10 minutes remaining on the clock, the safety car was called out once again, this time after SQDA-GRIT Motorsport’s Brian Lee was left stranded in the gravel, prematurely ending what had been a superb debut weekend.
The field was released for a final time for a fast and furious dash to the flag. As Wells raced away to take the overall and PRO-AM victories, behind him Giltrap kept him in range, crossing the line 1.314 seconds behind to take the PRO win. Behind the pair, Wells’ team mate Tse led a four-car battle for the final overall podium place, with Tse, Promsombat, Jackson Walls, and Mikko Nässi all fighting for honours.
At the flag it was Walls who prevailed, taking third overall and second in the PRO-AM class, ahead of AM winner Tse.
There was heartbreak for Siamgas Corse’s Supachai Weeraborwornpong after the Thai driver had taken the Lamborghini Cup lead from class pole-sitter Kumar Prabakaran. Supachai looked all set for the win when he spun just before the flag on the final lap. The incident meant Prabakaran took his first class win of the season ahead of Kam Lung Racing’s Ma Chin Min and Vong Keng Fai, with Supachai classified third in class.