Chang, 20 May 2017 – Rino Mastronardi and Rui Aguas on the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 took their first Blancpain GT Series Asia victories on Saturday in the first of the series’ two races at Buriram, Thailand. The Spirit of Race drivers came home just 0.795 seconds clear of Maxi Buhk and Hunter Abbott’s GruppeM Racing Mercedes that was later penalized with 30 seconds on final time for a collision caused on the opening lap. Second place thus went to Phoenix Racing Asia’s Audi of Marchy Lee and Shaun Thong.
Odd episode. Pole-sitter Anthony Liu kept the lead from fellow front-row-starter Mastronardi, until contact between Hunter Abbott and Mitch Gilbert sent the latter’s Audi into the pits, while the Mercedes would eventually be penalized. Mastronardi continued to stay close to Liu over the opening 12 minutes before Terence Tse’s out-of-position car collided with the BBT Ferrari at Turn 3 ending the race of the 488 GT3.
Restart. Mastronardi’s lightning restart, coupled with a GT4 car between himself and his pursuers, meant the Italian was well up the road once the clock ticked past 25 minutes and the front-runners began to stop. However, Spirit of Race elected to continue circulating for another three laps before swapping Aguas in, by which time Buhk was just 1.5 seconds behind.
Final laps. The Mercedes loomed large in Aguas’ mirrors for a lap or so before the Portuguese driver slowly edged clear. The other Ferrari 488 GT3 entered by Spirit of Race was eight with Massimiliano Wieser and Xin Jiang while Voravud Bhirombhakdi and Carlo Van Dam were seventh in the old 458 Italia GT3 entered by Singha Motorsport Team Thailand.