*Second-place finish for Fong and Sawa in 3 Hours of Sepang
*Fong and Sawa extend lead atop drivers classification
*Bentley Team Absolute tops tables in Team competition
Bentley Team Absolute drivers Adderly Fong and Keita Sawa extended their lead in the GT Asia Series after successfully defeating challenges from both their rivals and the elements to take a well-deserved second-place finish at the 3 Hours of Sepang in Malaysia.
The successful weekend at the Malaysian F1 track saw Bentley Team Absolute earn an 18-point advantage at the top of the GT Asia Series Team standings.
In the double points-scoring Round 7, the first three-hour endurance race in the series’ history, Hong Kong driver Fong executed a brilliant overtaking manoeuvre with just six laps remaining to seize second position. He then had to fend off a furious last-gasp challenge from his rival to extend his and Sawa’s lead in the Drivers Classification.
It was another strong weekend for Bentley Team Absolute which, as a result, maintains its grasp on top of the Team Classification leader board. In addition to the second-place finish for former Audi R8 LMS Cup champion Fong and former Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Sawa in the #08 car, Duncan Tappy and Jacky Yeung in the #77 Bentley Continental GT crossed the line sixth, while Andy Meyrick and Jeffrey Lee in the #07 car finished ninth overall.
“We are thrilled with the second place podium finish for Adderly Fong and Keita Sawa in the 3 Hours of Sepang, and proud that they have extended their lead in the championship standings,” said Absolute Racing director Ingo Matter. “Under tricky, changeable conditions all three of the Bentley Continental GT3 cars performed well, and we’re pleased to not only take home another podium finish and strengthen our lead overall, but to have all three cars finish in the top 10.”
Story of the Race
With the three-hour race counting for double points, the three-car Bentley Team Absolute saw the race at Malaysia’s Formula 1 track as an opportunity to gain critical points in their championship campaigns. Starting from ninth on the grid, Sawa quickly made up four places to go fifth in the order. In the final stages of his first, 20-lap stint, Sawa fought to manage the tyres in the searing heat and humidity. Tappy started from the sixth row, with Lee taking the wheel of the #07 car, which had qualified just behind Tappy and Yeung.
Lee got off to a strong start, immediately taking the fight to his rivals, while Tappy made it through the first few corners before going on the attack and moving up through the field.
Following the first mandatory pit stop, Fong held onto fifth place while Tappy handed the car over to Yeung in eighth position. New Bentley Team Absolute driver Andy Meyrick – racing for the first time at Sepang – took over from Lee running tenth. Heavy rain began to fall soon after, and a wet tyre change was permitted. The three cars continued to fight for position as they battled the inclement weather conditions.
As Tappy prepared for his second stint, the team made the decision to go with slick tyres, which ultimately proved to be the right call. Within the opening three laps of his second stint, the Briton was seven seconds faster than the other cars on track.
Meanwhile, Sawa took over from Fong and struggled to control the tyres, losing out a place to rival Darryl O’Young. However, the Japanese ace knew that in order to challenge for a podium position, he couldn’t let his rival run away.
A brief downpour threatened to add even more drama to the already action-packed race, but just as quickly as it arrived, the rain stopped.
Having kept their rival close, when Sawa handed the car back to Fong he was able to make the move and dived up to third. Fong was immediately on the hunt to the car ahead, chipping away at the gap and reeling in his rival.
Yeung, meanwhile, was back in the car and, despite being out of podium contention, determined to finish the race as far up the order as possible. Meyrick took over from Lee for the closing stages of the race.
In just six laps, Fong had narrowed the gap to the car ahead from more than seven seconds to just 0.1, successfully diving past in the closing stages. However, the battle was far from over. O’Young’s team mate Daniel Lloyd overtook the #11 car to move up to third position, storming into Fong’s mirrors and piling on the pressure. Fong refused to be rattled, expertly defending to claim their fourth podium finish of the season. Yeung held on to sixth position throughout his stint, while Meyrick would bring the #07 car over the line in ninth.
Bentley Team Absolute will be back in action for Rounds 8&9 of the GT Asia Series later this month from September 26-27 at the Shanghai International Circuit.