Massimiliano Wiser pipped championship leader Aditya Patel to fastest time across today’s two free practice sessions at Chang International Circuit in Thailand ahead of this weekend’s third and fourth rounds of the inaugural Blancpain GT Series Asia campaign.
Times improved significantly in the second of this afternoon’s two 45-minute sessions, with Maxi Buhk’s FP1 benchmark some six tenths shy of the ultimate time subsequently set by Wiser.
J-Fly by Absolute Racing’s Alessio Picariello, who joins Jeffrey Lee for the first time this weekend, set the pace for the first 20 minutes of second practice before Buhk’s co-driver Hunter Abbott spun and beached his GruppeM racing Mercedes-AMG in the Turn 5 gravel.
17 minutes remained on the clock once the session resumed, and it was championship leader Patel who struck first. The Indian driver, who shares his #86 Audi R8 LMS GT3 with Silver Cup co-driver Mitch Gilbert, posted a 1m33.803s to seal provisional top spot by just 0.056s.
Audi wouldn’t have things all its own way, though, thanks to Wiser’s Ferrari producing a best of 1m33.757s late in the session. That was enough to give the Italian and co-driver Jiang Xin the day’s fastest time by just 0.045s.
Picariello and Lee couldn’t improve on their earlier best but remained third ahead of two more Audis: Martin Rump’s KCMG by Champion Racing-run R8 LMS GT3 and the similar Milestone Racing example driven by Franky Cheng.
Jules Szymkowiak and Tim Sugden’s GruppeM Mercedes-AMG completed the top-six, albeit just 0.040s shy of Cheng’s time and only 0.014s clear of the Sepang race-winning BBT Ferrari driven by Davide Rizzo and Anthony Liu. Kantasak Kusiri and Singha Plan-B Motorsport were fastest of the Thai driver and team contingent in eighth, Rui Aguas’ Spirit of Race Ferrari finished ninth and Carlo van Dam demonstrated impressive speed to put his older generation Ferrari 458 10th.
FFF Racing Team by ACM’s Lin Yue and Zhu Junhan were fastest of the three Am Cup crews entered this weekend, while Taiwan Top Speed Racing Team’s Jeremy Wang and Keo Chang posted the fastest GT4 time aboard their Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
Final free practice takes place tomorrow morning at 09:00 before two qualifying sessions (11:50) and the weekend’s first 60-minute race (15:20).