Blancpain GT Asia: Patel & Gilbert claim 2017's second win in Race 1 at Zhejiang
The final round in the 2017 Blancpain GT Series Asia started with the two practice sessions on Friday at the newly-built Zhejiang Circuit in China.
In an all-new red and black livery, the #86 OD Racing duo of Aditya Patel & Mitch Gilbert in the Audi R8 LMS GT3 car were 10th and third overall, whereas they were fifth and first in Silver class respectively.
The Indian had provisional pole, but was beaten to it by 0.422s, however, the pair took Silver class pole from the overall third placed #1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan of Alberto Di Folco and Aidan Read.
The Qualifying 2 for the season-finale had Gilbert snatching pole by a mere 0.009s from the #18 KCMG Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Martin Rump and Sanghwi Rick Yoon in a back and forth battle.
The overall third place went to #7 J-Fly by Absolute Racing’s Alessio Picariell and Jeffrey Lee, completing a Audi 1-2-3 in the process.
It was a safety car start in the first race of the finale weekend, with Patel behind the wheel in damp conditions as it continued to drizzle down in China.
Few laps before the mandatory pit stop, taking the inside line Patel claimed the race lead from Dreyspring, who lost another place to Read.
Once ahead, Patel started to lap in fastest times to build a gap between him and second-placed Read - before the latter pitted in, while Patel went on for few more laps.
The Indian eventually dived in to hand the car to Gilbert, as the team served its five-second extra time to still come out in lead, just ahead of the #1 Lamborghini of Di Folco.
The Malaysian then pulled out a significant gap to claim the team's second overall and Silver class win by 5.615s, after victory in the season-opener.
Behind, the #1 Lamborghini of Read & Di Folco were a lonely second, even in Silver class, while the #999 Mercedes of Maximilian Buhk & Hunter Abbot rounded out the Top 3, keeping championship leaders #5 Audi Hong Kong of Marchy Lee & Shaun Thong at bay.
This sets up for a fascinating finale on Sunday, with the overall GT3 class title yet to be decided. The standings has Lee & Thong leading with 150 points, as Abbot sits second with 149, while Patel & Gilbert is third with 135 points.
The Indo-Malaysian pair starts on pole in Sunday's race and for them to win the overall title, they will have to win the race, with the hope that Lee & Thong finish sixth or lower, while Abbot finishes fifth or lower.
In the Silver class, Lee & Thong have taken an unbeatable lead of 194 points, as Patel & Gilbert is second with 163 points.