BSEM penalised in last race of China GT season

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The 2019 China GT Championship season came to an end this weekend with Aston Martin Racing Partner Team BSEM again fielding two variants of the AMR Vantage GT4 at the final two races of the season.

Hoping to capitalise upon their race winning success at the second race last time out at Tianjin, drivers David Pun and AMR factory driver Ross Gunn left the Shanghai International Circuit with penalties adversely affecting their performances on track.

With Gunn having Qualified the new #618 car on pole for race one for his amateur co-driver, the 50kg success ballast from winning the last race really hurt the performance of the car as Pun battled out his thirty minute stint amongst Pro drivers in the other cars. The older, normally aspirated Vantage GT4 would also be raced again but in a solo driver format in both races for a returning Zhang Fangxuan.

Overtaken for the lead of the race going into turn one, Pun soon had his mirrors full of car after car as the #618 effectively lumbered out of the technical sections of the 5.4km circuit before a Safety Car period 'lost' the race ten minutes of time whilst a stricken car was recovered from the side of the circuit.

By the time of pit window opening Pun had dropped to P6 overall but by the time Gunn emerged, that gap had further elongated to P9. Slow, progressive race craft was all the new AMR WEC factory could do to lift the #618 car to P4 by the time of the chequered flag. The #619 would finish P12 and a lap down to the leaders.

"The circuit was not suiting the strengths of the AMR Vantage GT4" said Gunn when asked to comment about his races.

Race two on Sunday was a different story however as despite a lower Qualifying slot of P9 for Gunn, there was no success ballast aboard the car.

Some early brave moves and some 'poetically licensed' moves in the opening few laps saw Gunn move up to P4 overall and that would improve by two more positions as a Mercedes and Ginetta tangled a few hundred metres in front to take themselves both out of contention - that was now P2 with only ten minutes of the race gone!!

Losing another ten minutes of the race to the Safety Car, Gunn was struggling to get past the Mercedes of Alex Fontana despite the Swiss driver bearing the 50kg weight penalty from race 1 but would still pit from P2 just after the halfway mark.

With new front Michelins fitted, Pun would exit the pits in P2 but he would be very quickly passed by the extremely quick Mercedes of Will Bamber not long before a huge crash involving a BMW and another Mercedes would neutralise the race for most of the remaining nineteen minutes. With the front wheel of the BMW collapsing under braking, that driver was simple a passenger as his car at first slammed into the concrete wall head on before then spearing into (and thankfully) the non drivers side of the Mercedes as that was then going around the hairpin corner.

With some injuries apparent and a huge debris field, the race would only go green again with just three minutes remaining but as Bamber controlled the restart, an over ambitious move from Pun saw him overtake this Mercedes before the control line. Like their stable partners at Automatic Racing at the finale of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at Road America on Friday, the #618 car would cross the line in P2 only to have a thirty second penalty applied post race for that late transgression.

The #618 would finally be listed just ahead of their other team car in P10 (#618) and P11 (#619) respectively.

Photo credits - China GT

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