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Giltrap and Osborne Lead After Double Malaysian Victories

6 mai 2024

Absolute Racing New Zealanders unbeatable at season-opener

The Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia (LSTA) blasted into its 2024 season at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit with two no-holds-barred thrillers on the 5.543km track. Opening honours in both races went to the exciting young New Zealand duo of defending champion Marco Giltrap and series newcomer Clay Osborne who took their Absolute Racing Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO2 to two overall victories to top the PRO leaderboard.

A brilliant series debut from Japan’s Miki Koyama and Macau’s Charles Leong Hon Chio saw the pair finish second overall in both races in the SJM Iron Lynx Theodore Racing entry, while third across the line in race one were Arrows Racing’s Gavin Huang and Jonathan Cecotto, the latter having snatched the lead from pole-sitter Osborne off the start. Third in race two were DW Evans GT’s Dan Wells and series newcomer, Frenchman Emilien Carde.

Madness Racing Team opened their LSTA account with Macau driver André Couto and team mate Chen Fangping of China taking a pair of superb PRO-AM victories ahead of class rivals DW Evans GT’s Thomas Yu Lee and Finn Nikolas Pirttilahti. An impressive debut by YK Motorsports by Star Performance Thai pair Nattanid ‘Kat’ Leewattanavalagul and Dechathorn ‘Phu’ Phuakkarawut resulted in an LSTA AM victory on their first-ever race in the Lamborghini Bangkok car, heading home SQDA – GRIT Motorsport’s Brian Lee in the Lamborghini Seoul car and TRUE VISIONS MOTORSPORTS THAILAND’s Suttiluck ‘Bobby’ Buncharoen of Thailand. In race two, it was Lee who took the AM class win from Kat and Phu, with Madness Racing Team’s Hong Shijie and He Xinyang.

Both Lamborghini Cup victories went to HZO Fortis Racing Team by Absolute Racing brothers Haziq and Hairie Oh, with defending class champion Supachai Weeraborwornpong second for Siamgas Corse and Samson Chan and Steven Chian third for Arrows Racing in race one. Weeraborwornpong took a second runner-up finish in race two ahead of another solo driver, Kumar Prabakaran of Malaysia in the Iron Lynx Lamborghini.

After the first two of the 12-race season, Giltrap and Osborne hold a seven point lead at the top of the PRO driver standings from Leong and Koyama, with Cecotto and Huang six points behind them in third. Couto and Chen are six points ahead of PRO-AM rivals Pirttilahti and Yu Lee, while Brian Lee leads the AM category with a single point advantage over Kat and Phu. Two wins for the Oh brothers put them top of the Lamborghini Cup classification, eight points ahead of defending champion Weeraborwornpong.

Following a sensational opening round in Malaysia, LSTA next heads to Australia and The Bend Motorsport Park near Adelaide for round two from June 7 to 9.

Race 1
Getting their championship campaigns off to a strong start courtesy of an extra point for pole position were Absolute Racing’s Clay Osborne who set the fastest PRO and overall lap in qualifying for race one, André Couto, taking PRO-AM pole for Madness Racing Team, Li Xuanyu of 610Racing by Absolute, fastest of the AM qualifiers, and Lamborghini Cup pole-sitter Hairie Oh for HZO Fortis Racing Team by Absolute Racing.

As the field was unleased for the first time this season onto a dry track following a wet qualifying, it was Arrows Racing’s Jonathan Cecotto who stole the march on Osborne, snatching the race lead before turn one and setting off to pull away from the chasing pack. DW Evans GT’s Dan Wells also made a lightning getaway, powering up from P6 to second by the end of the opening lap and demoting Osborne to third. Blackjack Racing series newcomer Peter Li Zhicong lost out in the early stages, dropping down the order to sixth from his impressive P3 grid position.

Further down the order, Couto was making a strong recovery after dropping places off the start, powering his way past AM class SQDA – GRIT Motorsport driver Brian Lee and homing in on DW Evans GT’s Nikolas Pirttilahti and the PRO-AM class lead, charging past the Finn with 40 minutes remaining on the clock.

Charles Leong Hon Chio had made up a place at the start to fourth, but now found himself under attack from a trio of challengers led by Lee. The SJM Iron Lynx Theodore Racing driver held firm, and was handed a breather when an error by Lee and a challenge on Li by Couto for sixth handed Leong some breathing space.  

As the pit window opened, Cecotto had pulled out an impressive overall and PRO lead, with Wells and Osborne in hot pursuit, Lee led the AM class, with Couto heading the PRO-AM category, and Hairie Oh retaining the Lamborghini Cup lead.

Cecotto pitted at the last possible moment to maximize the advantage before handing the Arrows Racing Lamborghini to Gavin Huang, who retained the lead into the final stint. Osborne handed the wheel to reigning PRO champion Marco Giltrap in second, while Chen Fangping joined fray third overall having inherited the PRO-AM lead from Couto. Behind the trio, Wells’ team mate Frenchman Emilien Carde headed a tightly-packed train of challengers led by solo driver Li in fifth, Leong’s team mate Miki Koyama in sixth, and Korean AM driver Lee, also driving solo.

A tense battle for the lead ensued at the front of the pack between Huang and Giltrap, with the Kiwi prevailing and sailing to the flag and the first victory of the season. Behind the pair, however, the race was far from over and the final ten minutes brought plenty of drama.

Koyama was a woman with the bit between her teeth and launched a charge for the podium, first picking off Lee before setting her sights on Chen in third. She passed Chen as the clock ticked down, going one better and getting by Huang to take second on the final run to the flag and following Giltrap across the line, with Huang in third.

Chen Fangping and André Couto won the PRO-AM class, completing a strong debut for Madness Racing Team, ahead of DW Evans GT’s Thomas Yu Lee and Nikolas Pirttilahti, the latter having received a five second penalty for track limits.

Another driver to mount an impressive late-race charge was Dechathorn ‘Phu’ Phuakkarawut, who got by Lee to grab the AM victory for YK Motorsport by Star Performance with team mate Nattanid ‘Kat’ Leewattanavalagul, with TRUE VISIONS MOTORSPORTS THAILAND’s Suttiluck ‘Bobby’ Buncharoen joining Phu and Kat on the podium.  

Lamborghini Cup honours went to Malaysian pole-sitters Haziq and Hairie Oh and HZO Fortis Racing Team by Absolute Racing, with Siamgas Corse’s Supachai Weeraborwornpong second and Arrows Racing duo Samson Chan and Steven Chian third.

Race 2
Blackjack Racing’s Peter Li Zhicong led the field away from pole in race two, and the accomplished Chinese driver put up a spirited and prolonged defense against a hard-charging Marco Giltrap in second. SQDA – GRIT Motorsport AM driver Brian Lee rocketed away at the start, gaining two places from his P5 start.

Li continued to hold the lead, despite the best efforts of Giltrap behind, and Lee continued in third. Behind them SJM Iron Lynx Theodore Racing’s Miki Koyama was battling DW Evans GT’s Emilien Carde hard for fourth, the two series newcomers keeping the fight hard but fair. Further down the order, meanwhile, a similarly heated battle ensued for ninth between Carde’s team mate Thomas Yu Lee, Arrows Racing’s Johnson Huang and Madness Racing Team’s Chen Fangping.

Up at the front, Giltrap found his way past Li to snatch the lead with 34 minutes remaining on the clock and, once released, pulled away. As the pit window opened, Lee was holding firm in third ahead of Carde and Koyama, while Thai AM driver Dechathorn ‘Phu’ Phuakkarawut was sixth.

When the pit window opened, Arrow’s Racing’s Gavin Huang was the first to hand over, team mate Jonathan Cecotto taking the wheel. Last to pit were Giltrap and Koyama, with both Absolute Racing and SJM Iron Lynx Theodore Racing executing canny pit stop strategies to emerge in first and second. As Clay Osborne set off to preserve the lead inherited from Giltrap, behind him Charles Leong was on a charge to deny him the victory ahead of Li in third. AM driver Lee was running in fourth ahead of Dan Wells who had taken over from Carde, with Cecotto some way behind but quickly closing up.

The closing minutes saw first Lee then Wells find their way past Li, demoting him to fifth ahead of Cecotto. With just seven minutes on the clock, Wells dived up the inside of Lee, getting by with a perfectly-executed move and up into P3. Cecotto, meanwhile, had closed up to Li and, despite another great defense by the Chinese driver, got past to climb to fifth by the flag.

Up at the front, Osborne took the flag and the second win of the weekend for him and PRO partner Giltrap, with Leong following him across the line having run out of time to close the gap any further but locking in a second runner-up podium finish on his and Koyama’s debut together. Wells and Carde took their first podium of the season, while Lee celebrated his first AM victory of the year with an impressive fourth place overall finish.

Madness Racing Team’s Chen Fangping and André Couto took the PRO-AM win from class rivals DW Evans GT’s Thomas Yu Lee and Nikolas Pirttilahti. Malaysian brothers Hairie and Haziq Oh took Lamborghini Cup honours once again ahead of Supachai Weeraborwornpong, this time with Iron Lynx driver Kumar Prabakaran of Malaysia taking a well-deserved class podium finish.

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