HIGHS AND LOWS OF A RACE WEEKEND FOR OD RACING AT SUZUKA
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June 30, 2017
OD Racing ends the two race Suzuka weekend placing third in the Team and Driver Championship
Monday, 26 June 2017. Kuala Lumpur – Weather made the weekend exciting for OD Racing at Blancpain GT Series Asia when Mitch Gilbert and Aditya Patel showed great race pace and solid results for their first Japan outing.
A change of strategy proved fruitful when Gilbert and Patel took the Audi R8 LMS GT3, managed by the able Absolute Racing crew, to set the second fastest times for both Qualifying sessions. That set the pace for a tremendous start of the weekend for the young duo.
Before the races began, the 28-year old Indian national looked forward to race at the legendary circuit. “From what I have seen and heard, it seems like the kind of circuit I will thoroughly enjoy. We will definitely want to win again and we know it’s possible this time around”.
Patel and Gilbert managed a well-paced and mightily contested race 1 on Saturday to claim a podium finish for the team, collecting 15 points for the Championship challenge.
“We started pretty strong, qualifying P2 for both races, which was positive. Race 1 was a bit mixed, I lost a bit of time to Marchy early on and was a bit hard to recover from there, but a podium was good” said Patel.
Mitch agreed, “It was a bit of a tough day in Race 1. We were a little bit in the back and we had a different strategy than the rest, we ran old tyres when everyone was on new. It was a very hot race and we had to manage traffic, dropping a position while in the mix but I managed a good move on Peter Li to take a position and in the end, finishing third in a tough race was good for us”.
It was Race 2 that really exemplified the saying “that’s racing” for OD Racing. Gilbert started the race with slicks on a wet track but the 23-year old held on and maintained a steady pace despite the incident riddled session, handing the car to Patel in fourth during the pit-stop.
“We started the race on slicks despite the rain and I was pretty careful to get the car to Aditya so that when he got in with the wet tyres on he could do what he needed to do. I didn’t take any risks and brought the car to pit in fourth.
“When Aditya went out, it was the best I’ve seen him drive since Sepang in April. He did great to overtake all the cars ahead of him and we could have won with 10-15 seconds easily, without even trying…” said Gilbert.
Once Patel took over with the wet tyres, he just put his head down and pushed, overtaking the leading cars until he claimed the lead. Then, as luck would have it, with less than 15 minutes to go, Patel suffered a massively spectacular blowout on the main straight, seeing him careening almost into the gravel. Patel expertly manoeuvred the car to a steady crawl before stopping in the safety of the run-off area.
“Race 2 was our best chance and we knew we could win but that puncture, we can’t do much can we? All we can do now is look ahead and fight back in Fuji” said a very disheartened Patel after the race.
Gilbert summed it up for the duo later, “when you have a blowout like that when you are ‘winning’, it is pretty hard to take. At the end of the day, as I’ve heard a lot of times today, that’s what racing”.
Director of OD Racing, Cornelius Ee, had nothing but praises for the duo. “They fought hard and they fought well. We could all see that they had the pace to manage podiums and wins, it was just bad luck that caught us out today.
“We have no regrets. We can see that the team works well together and the car is exceptional around the tricky circuit, so we know we have more wins to take this season. It’s just a matter of time. It will not be easy, the competition will be tough but we will push through it and fight hard to regain that lead”.
The Blancpain GT Series Asia will remain in Japan for Rounds 7 and 8 at Fuji Speedway Circuit this 19-20 August.
Founded in 2014, OD Racing blasted through the motorsport scene making its mark in Asia when it first raced in the GT Asia Series in 2015. The team’s bold appearance and outgoing manner is a fan favourite and gets great support all over Asia.
OD Racing aims high and in just two short years have managed to achieve great results, including a second placed finish at the inaugural KLGP race in 2015. The team competed in the GT Asia Series in a Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3, at the Asian Le Mans Series with a pair of McLaren 650s GT3 and this year at the Blancpain GT Series Asia in the latest Audi R8 GT3.
With tremendous support of team partners and race fans from around the Region and the world, OD Racing is looking forward to its most successful season yet.
The 2017 Blancpain GT Series Asia is based on the British GT Championship format, bringing together GT3, GT4 and GTC machinery. The Series will visit six of Asia’s best circuits in four countries, beginning with Sepang International Circuit and ending at the newly built Zhejiang International Circuit in China this October.