- Alex Jiatong Liang finishes impressive 2nd overall in opening round
- Kevin Tse victorious in Real-AM class despite damage
- Points scored in Real-PRO and Real-AM classes
The opening round of the GT World Challenge Asia Esports Championship saw 90 of Asia’s best real-world and simulator drivers take to the virtual track. At the fast and narrow Monza circuit, the opening laps were expectedly full of drama. Motul drivers Alex Jiatong Liang and Kevin Tse kept their head down despite the chaos throughout the Real Drivers’ Race, and scored an impressive double podium for the team.
In the Real-PRO class, Melvin Moh, Matt Solomon and Alex Liang all qualified towards the front, qualifying 2nd, 5th and 6th respectively. By the end of the first lap, Moh and Solomon were still running at the front but Solomon, in his Vita Juice-branded Mercedes-AMG GT3, had unfortunately been caught up in the chaos. It was a close battle for the lead, with Moh and Liang dicing lap after lap in the top three positions. However about halfway into the race, Moh came across backmarkers and was unfortunately taken out with big damage. Liang was then the leading Craft-Bamboo Racing driver in 2nd place, and despite a small drama with yet another errant backmarker, he fought hard and crossed the line in second place to claim an overall podium result.
Slightly further back, Darryl O’Young in his Vita Lemon Tea Mercedes-AMG GT3 had his work cut out for him after a difficult qualifying session that saw him start the race from 18th position. After being caught out in the first lap drama, he fought back valiantly from 36th position to eventually finish 23rd overall.
Leading the charge for Craft-Bamboo Racing in the Real-AM class, Kevin Tse had a great qualifying session and put his Mercedes-AMG GT3 in class pole position, and 12th overall. Starting mid-pack, Tse was unable to avoid the chaos on the opening lap, and sustained damage to his car. Using his real life experience, Tse drove a stellar race and managed to bring the Motul Mercedes-AMG GT3 home 1st in the Real-AM class, scoring a great double result for the team.
The teams’ sole entrant in the Sim-PRO class, Charles Theseira, started the Sim drivers’ race from 3rd position out of 40 cars after a great qualifying despite mixed conditions. However, his qualifying effort was short-lived when on the second lap, he had unfortunate contact with another car while passing for position. He sustained heavy damage and eventually crossed the line in 20th position.
Alex Jiatong Liang | Driver #99 Motul Mercedes-AMG GT3 The race was really good, finished 2nd and avoided most accidents and I had really good pace. I’m really happy for the result. I was really lucky to avoid the carnage at the start, and later on in the race I got hit by a car that was a lap down. Lost one position but gained it back later. The next race is going to be at Laguna Seca, and it will be a little bit challenging as I have never driven there. But I’ve already been practicing and looking at on-boards to prepare. I’m aiming to fight for the championship, and looking forward to the next round! Thanks for the support from Motul and Craft-Bamboo Racing.
Kevin Tse | Driver #99 Motul Mercedes-AMG GT3 “It was really fun and good to see all my friends racing together, we always hang out at race tracks in real life but this is the first time racing virtually with Asia’s best drivers. It was the first race of the year so I guess everyone was a bit rusty and it was filled with incidents. As for myself, I had a good start but was involved in a few scraps, resulting in damage. I decided to pit early to switch up the strategy, and then kept my decent pace, even managing to pass a few cars on the way, and taking the class victory!”
Darryl O’Young| Driver #55 Vita VLT Mercedes-AMG GT3 “It was a tough start to the championship after qualifying 18th, as I struggled to adapt to the changing track conditions. The times were really close and I started the race in the middle of the pack. At the start there was a lot of crashing and spinning, and I ended up getting spun around sitting in the middle of the track, eventually some cars hit me. I had to fix the damage which lost me 2 laps. After the car was repaired, we put new tyres on and filled a full tank of fuel. Although I was several laps down, I respected the blue flags and managed to stay with the front pack for most of the race. It was really good to push myself to be consistent and drive better. Overall I really enjoyed the race, it was great to bring back the competitive feeling after so long away from racing. Coming back from 36th to 23rd at the end was the best I could do. Looking forward to the next one for sure, thanks to Vita VLT and Craft-Bamboo Racing for the great support.”
Matt Solomon | Driver #36 Vita Juice Mercedes-AMG GT3 “I was quite disappointed with the way the race ended. It was mayhem throughout the race, especially the first lap. Despite that, I had really good pace and actually qualified 5th. It was just unfortunate that I was unable to convert that into a good result. Looking forward to the next race, and if we can keep up the pace and qualify at the front again, that would place us well for the rest of the championship. I really want to thank everyone that supported us; Vita Juice being a team partner, really happy to have them on-board. The organizers SRO put on a great show, and I’m keen for the next round at Laguna Seca!”