OD Racing wins first Blancpain GT Series Asia race

A new chapter in Asian sportscar racing history started this Saturday as the Blancpain GT Series started its inaugural season with the first race at the famous Sepang Circuit in Malaysia. While the race was full of battles, the OD Racing Audi of Mitch Gilbert and Aditya Patel had a clean race to victory with a large advantage to the opposition.

Once the lights were green the lead battle raged on between the No. 86 OD Racing Audi and the No. 37 BBT Ferrari until the second corner, chaos after the line sent two cars to the wall, being them the No. 90 Team AAI BMW and the No. 12 Clearwater McLaren, and brought the first yellow flag. Procedures took 10 minutes to be completed and then the green came again with the No. 86 OD Racing Audi leading while Anthony Liu got the braking of the No. 37 BBT Ferrari a bit wrong, had a slide on Turn 1 and let the No. 99 CRAFT-Bamboo Porsche pass for second. Later on the lap Liu struggled to holg the No. 5 Audi Hong Kong car and the gold and silver machine got past it at the home straight for third place.

The nature of the Sepang circuit favored a lot of battles like the one with the No. 91 AAI BMW and the No. 888 GruppeM Mercedes for sixth place, won by the Bavarian car. A bit ahead, Darryl O'Young had to deal with Marchy Lee and Anthony Liu to hold second place, and while none of them were successful on their moves, Jules Gounon took the opportunity to bring the No. 88 CRAFT-Bamboo Porsche to fourth place. Liu took the worst effects of the multi-car battle with a punctured tire, and went straight to pits.

Still on the second place matters, O'Young wasn't rid of Marchy Lee, but again Lee's attempts led to an unsettled car as O'Young's defence remained rock-solid. As the No. 86 OD Racing Audi entered in the pits the battle between Lee and O'Young was for the lead until the No. 99 CRAFT-Bamboo Porsche finally went in for the pit-stop. The car returned with Li Zhi Cong to the track and lost a position to the No. 91 AAI BMW, being now in fifth.

The pit window shuffled things a bit, even though the No. 86 OD Racing returned to lead with Aditya Patel at the wheel. FIA WEC racer Joël Camathias in the No. 88 CRAFT-Bamboo Porsche had to deal with the No. 5 Audi Hong Kong and the No. 91 AAI BMW to keep in second, and when the No. 5 with Shaun Thong opened the way on Turn 1, the No. 91 and the No. 999 GruppeM Mercedes got past Camathias, taking second, third and fourth respectively. Thong still got his hands full trying to deal with Jesse Krohn in the No. 91 car, and after a lot of close ones, the BMW finally got past for second, with Raffaele Marciello in the No. 999 car also overtaking Thong. Marciello tried to overtake Krohn at the final hairpin with 12 minutes to go, failing as he went wide, but then later in the lap Marciello succeeded, taking second place and continuing the quest to reduce the gap to the leader Aditya Patel in the No. 86 OD Racing Audi.

The last eight minutes were dedicated to see the brave effort of Raffaele Marciello reducing the gap to Patel, and while Marciello was improving his pace lap after lap and was beating race records, Patel was way ahead of the Italian, so the No. 86 OD Racing Audi had only the work to cross the finish line to get its first win in the series. The GT4 class was won by the No. 77 CRAFT-Bamboo Porsche as Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin had quite a dominating performance during the whole race.