Podium on debut for Aditya Patel
Zhuhai (China), March 22 (IANS)
Indian GT driver Aditya Patel finished third on debut in the Audi R8 LMS Cup here on Saturday while the second race was called off after four laps due to unsafe conditions, following rains. Patel, who has consistently been in the top three right through practice sessions, narrowly made it into the top eight for the qualifying shootout after a small error.
Chennai's 26-year-old, who is backed by Audi India, JK Racing, Amante and Jubilant Motorworks, pushed hard but only to end up third behind former DTM driver Rahel Frey and former Formula 1 driver Alex Yoong.
The trio was separated by one-tenth of a second in qualifying, closely followed by Marchee Lee of Hong Kong.
The first race witnessed some intense action with Yoong snatching the lead from Frey instantly. Patel tried to take advantage of the situation but eventually had to settle in third.
While it looked as though Frey had finally shaken off Patel, the Indian closed back up on the penultimate lap but still could not find a way around the Swiss female driver. Patel had to settle for third overall and was also the winner of the 4 Rings trophy.
Race 2 saw the Indian get off to a flying start and slotting into second place by Turn 1. However, the race was stopped after just four laps due to unsafe conditions and points were not awarded to the drivers.
"This is my first race in the series and I'm pretty happy with a podium but I would have liked to have had a little more pace in qualifying. As the race went on, there was a lot going on," Patel said.
"I had Marchy catching up from behind and that kept me on my toes. I was also trying to plan how to catch Rahel. I used Push-to-Pass to catch Rahel and tried to make a move but couldn't make it stick."
Adding further, Patel said: "The second race also looked good for a podium until it had to be stopped due to unsafe conditions. I'm looking forward to the next round in Korea."