Stuvik grabs his first pole and 4th place in Shanghai

Thai driver Sandy Stuvik (left) leads the Blancpain GT Series Asia Race 1 at the Shanghai F1 Circuit in Shanghai, China, Saturday, Sept. 23.
Thai driver Sandy Stuvik (left) leads the Blancpain GT Series Asia Race 1 at the Shanghai F1 Circuit in Shanghai, China, Saturday, Sept. 23.

The fifth round of the Blancpain GT Series Asia took place at the Shanghai F1 Circuit in China last weekend.  Thai driver Sandy Stuvik would have a new teammate for the weekend in Yuki Nemoto, a young Japanese rising star who has had numerous successes in the European Super Trofeo Championship.

Friday’s practice sessions were contested in dry conditions and as part of the team strategy for the weekend, no new tires were used, instead saving them for possible use on Saturday’s Official Practice.

Saturday morning saw a wet Official Practice Session, with Stuvik leading most of the session, only to be pipped to 3rd during the closing stages.  Less than one-tenth of a second separated the Top 3.

Up next was the first Qualifying session, again in wet conditions and Stuvik was confident to improve on his Official Practice time.  The Thai driver went on to do exactly that and managed to secure his first Pole Position in the Blancpain GT Series Asia.

Yuki Nemoto carried on in fine form in the second Qualifying session, taking a well-earned 11th position in his first-ever GT3 qualifying with difficult conditions.

The rain however did not continue to fall after the Qualification sessions and the track began to slowly dry up before Race 1.  The discussion in the teams was whether to opt for slicks or wets in the damp conditions, with Stuvik choosing to go for slicks, like most of the rest of the grid.

With Stuvik leading the pack, Race 1 got underway and the Thai driver fell from the lead, seceding 3 positions to cars on the initially grippier wet tires.  The safety car was dispatched due to a turn-1 incident, but the race quickly got underway again.  With the slicks beginning to heat up Stuvik started making up ground and was back in the lead of the race.  The Thai driver would stay in the lead until his pit-stop window opened and he was able to give the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 over to Yuki Nemoto, who managed to keep the lead thanks to a string of fantastic laps.

Unfortunately the Thai driver was given a drive-through penalty for his battling in the first lap, and with that served, the pair dropped to 4th place, where they would finish.

Race 2 on Sunday was wet, which seemed ideal for Stuvik as he qualified his Lamborghini Huracan GT3 on pole just one day before in similar slippery conditions.  However, as the race unfolded the Thai driver did not find the edge he had in his previous sessions and he finished the race in 9th place.

The final round will take place on October 21-22 at the all-new Zhejiang circuit, around 4 hours inland from Shanghai.