TCR Asia – Thong and Sritrai shares wins in Zhuhai
23 April 2017
After Volkswagen Golf cars dominated the TCR Asia series opener in Sepang, Audi and Honda struck back at Zhuhai.
The 17-year old Jasper Thong gave the Audi RS3 LMS its first sprint race victory with a stunning success in the series’ Round 3. At the wheel of the car run by Phoenix Racing Asia under the banner of Audi Hong Kong, Thong had claimed pole position (1:44.920) beating the R Engineering Honda Civic Type-R of Lai Wee Sing (1:44.980) by only 60 thousandths of a second. Actually the fastest driver in Qualifying had been Huang Chu Han (Tianshi Racing Team Audi) with a lap of 1:44.678 that was disallowed for track limits infringement.
Tin Sritrai (Team Thailand Honda) won a wet second race that was enlivened by a thrilling fight for the second position.
Race 1 – Thong sprinted to the lead at the start, followed by Lai, Kanthadee Kusiri (Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi) and Sritrai. During the first lap Lai was passed by Kusiri and Sritrai, then made a mistake and dropped down the order.
On lap 2, Sritrai spun at T1 and dropped down, while Chen Wei An (Tianshi Racing Team Audi) joined the leading duo of Thong and Kusiri. The fight for the lead was exciting, with Thong and Kusiri driving side-by-side and Chen trying to find a gap. On lap 6, Chen made his move at T1, but went off and retired.
For the remaining 8 laps, Thong managed to keep Kusiri at bay and won by a one-tenth margin; Huang took third place ahead of point leader Diego Moran (Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen); Sritrai recovered to fifth after his spin.
Race 2 – On the wet track Sritrai made the best start and took the lead, chased by Huang and Lai. On lap 3, Chen overtook Lai for third, but a couple of laps later went off and lost several positions.
Filipe de Souza (Macau Racing Team Volkswagen) was the fastest driver on the track and joined Huang, Lai and Kusiri in a close fight for second; the Macanese managed to overtake his three rivals and closed the gap from the leader Sritrai.
On the last-but-one lap, de Souza attacked, but went off and re-joined just ahead of the Lai-Huang-Kusiri trio. Sritrai crossed the line first, while de Souza maintained second place from Lai; Huang went wide at the last turn and handed fourth to Kusiri.
Despite a poor weekend, Moran maintained his leadership with 72 points, but Kusiri (68) and Sritrai (67) have closed the gap.
The series’ will return to the Zhuhai International Circuit, on 13/14 May for rounds 5 and 6.
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