Tough weekend for Aditya Patel at Blancpain GT Season Opener at Sepang
An early retirement in race 1 and a mid-pack start for race 2 saw the team collect just one single point from the race weekend.
Sepang, April 15, 2018: Audi India race talent Aditya Patel had a new start to the season with OD Racing Team WRT at Sepang International Circuit which did not go as planned when an early retirement in race 1 and a mid-pack start for race 2 saw the team collect just one single point from the hot weekend.
The outcome was not what the team was hoping for. The Audi R8 LMS GT3 had the pace but a mechanical issue cost the team what could have been a podium finish in race 1. Higher temperatures in race 2 proved too harsh, causing both Mitch Gilbert and Aditya Patel to drive more cautiously to stay in the race.
“As you can see from what happened last year, one point was all it took to determine the Championship. So this weekend may not have been the best for us but we always look at the positives and that one point is still very important in the Championship fight, which is still a long way to go,” said Cornelius Ee, Director of OD Racing Team WRT.
The team struggled all weekend with pace and qualified 6th and 11th respectively during the sessions but as Saturday progressed, things started to look up when Patel took the Audi R8 LMS GT3 from a 6th place start up to 3rd just 15-minutes into the race. Then disaster struck when a hose broke, ending the team’s race.
“Sometimes things come together but this weekend for us it got hard. We found the issue and changed it, and hoped that today would be better but being 11th at the start was tough,” said Team Manager Ron Reichert.
Gilbert started race 2 from 11th on the grid and was caught up in the fighting pack right from the start. He fought hard but the brakes were wearing down too fast causing him to be extra cautious as he tried to break away from the group. He kept his head down and maintained a good pace to hand over the car to Aditya Patel in 12th. A clean pit-stop session and steady pace allowed Patel to make up two places for the team to finish the race in 10th.
“I thought we were making progress over the weekend but we just keep coming across issues. We still have some work to do and we have a month to figure out what to do for the next round,” said Gilbert after the race.
“We were struggling a bit but at least we weren’t struggling with the pace and we were fairly close to the rest of the Audis. Race 1 temperature was cooler which was probably why I could fight quite a bit before the hose blew. Race 2, based on our earlier race pace, we thought we could but I guess the temperature got too hot for the car. What can you do?” said Aditya Patel.
“At least we scored that one point today,” said Gilbert, “and yesterday we could’ve scored six or seven points or more. So when we have a tough weekend we just have to make sure that we keep scoring points.”
It is still early days for OD Racing Team WRT in their journey to the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Asia Championship and the team remains positive as they prepare for the next race weekend.
April 14/15 -Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
May 12/13 - Chang International Circuit, Thailand
June 30/July 1 -Suzuka International Circuit, Japan
July 21/22 - Fuji Speedway, Japan
September 22/23 - Shanghai International Circuit, China
October 13/14 - Zhejiang Circuit, China