A total of seven driver pairings have been confirmed for the GT Asia Series which kicks off with Rounds 1 & 2 at the Twin Ring Motegi this weekend.
“This is an exciting time for the GT Asia Series with rivalries getting tougher and the professionalism increasing rapidly. Everyone is coming back this season and they are now very serious. We have ex Formula 1and A1GP drivers as well as other Pro’s being brought in to partner with some of our more established stars. It looks like we are in for the best season ever” said David Sonenscher, CEO of Motorsport Asia.
This year sees the return of Marchy Lee and Jeffrey Lee in their Audi R8 LMS Ultra. The duo were the first successful season long pairing last year and despite Marchy missing out one race weekend due to clashing commitments, (replaced by Alex Imperatori in Suzuka), they finished 4th and 5th in points.
Alongside them at Absolute Racing will be two other Audi R8 LMS Ultra’s, with Philip Ma partnering Chinese star and ex A1GP driver Franky Cheng, whilst Francis Hideki Onda will partner ex Malaysian F1 driver Alex Yoong.
Tunku Hammam Sulong will mark his return to the Series at Team Clearwater Racing in a new Lamborghini LP560 GT3, sharing driving duties with ex Formula V6 Asia and Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia driver, Australian, Ro-Charlz.
The final GT3 duo was a surprise pairing when Craft Eurasia Racing made a late announcement on Wednesday that Hong Kong driver, Frank Yu will partner with Aston Martin Works driver, German Stefan Mucke. Mucke has had a very distinguished sportscar career and has been very successful, especially at Le Mans where he has placed in the top 10 overall 3 times. He is currently running in the FIA WEC with Aston Martin Racing. This strong duo will be in the AMR Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3.
In GTM class, Billy Fung was mentored and partnered by Super Taikyu driver, Akihiro Asai in Suzuka last year. The pairing proved successful and the duo will continue to partner, using the Audi R8 LMS for Hitotsuyama Racing.
They will be challenged by newcomers to the Series, Naoryu and Tohjiro Azuma in the Ferrari 458 Challenge for team Olive Spa + Age Age Racing from Japan.
“Not only will the grid lineup be interesting, some changes have also been made to the regulations to ensure stricter compliance with the FIA GT3 regulations. Driver Balance of Performance has also been tweaked to make it more exciting for the spectators watching, be it at the circuit or from the comfort of home” said Sonenscher.
Success ballast has been dropped in favour of extra time added to the compulsory pit-stops for the top 3 in each race. Race duration has also been extended from 40 to 50 minutes per race wherever possible, to encourage driver pairings and hence more action during the pit-stops.
“2013 marks the start of the fifth year the GT Asia Series will run as a collaborative effort between Motorsport Asia and Supercar Club Hong Kong. Together, we have made the Series grow to become the leading GT Series in Asia.
“Each round features the widest variety of GT cars seen in Asia including the latest GT Supercars. This year we have almost every marque represented, from the 2013 McLaren 12C GT3 to the Aston Martin Vantage V12, Audi R8 LMS Ultra, Ferrari 458 GT3, Ford GT3, Lamborghini LP560 GT3, Porsche GT3R and BMW Z4 GT3, all adding to the fun and excitement of seeing the best of the best battling it out at six of Asia’s best circuits. I would love to see the Nissan GTR and AMG SLS GT3’s join us and we are working on that” he ended.
At the end of 2012, the GT Asia Series crowned its first double GT Asia Series Champion, Mok Weng Sun, in a ceremony held in Macau after the Clearwater Racing Team ace took home the GT Asia Series class win held as part of the City of Dreams Macau GT Cup last November.
The 2013 GT Asia Series is supported by Yokohama ADVAN, Graham Timekeepers, KW Automotive, AutoArt, Tunewear and RaceRoom and is jointly organised by Motorsport Asia and Supercar Club Hong Kong.