Jeffrey Lee and Alessio Picariello take their second victory in the 2019 China GT Championship in Shanghai in challenging wet conditions. After two strong qualifying performances that saw the #88 EWS Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 start from P2 in Race 1 and and P4 in Race 2, the J-Fly Racing pair of Lee and Picariello demonstrated their pace all weekend to secure a victory on Sunday.
Qualifying 1 | Alessio Picariello
P2 – 2:05.074
Qualifying 2 | Jeffrey Lee
P4 – 2:08.136
Race 1 began under safety car conditions due to the lack of visibility from the rain, but despite this, Taiwanese GT Driver Jeffrey Lee kept it clean on the opening lap battle for position. Several laps into the race, Lee was on the back of the leading car when another safety car period closed the gaps up again. Keeping his cool in the wet, Lee took the second restart and kept the pressure on the leader right up to his pit-stop.
Lee pitted from 2nd position, and when Picariello emerged from the pit-stop window, he found himself in 3rd. Pushing hard in the rain, Picariello still managed to close up the gap to the 2nd placed car and set his sights on passing for position. Despite the low visibility, Picariello dived and ducked and put immense pressure on the car in front in multiple attempts to pass. However, after many laps of trying, Picariello was not able to find a way past and finished the race in P3.
On Sunday, Picariello took the start for the second race of the weekend in similar wet conditions, and got off to an incredible start, decisively and boldly passing 2 cars on the run to the first corner. Showing off his abilities in the challenging conditions, Picariello yet again put immense pressure on the leader, and in a thrilling move, passed for the lead on the outside of turn 7. He then set to control the pace from there, and by the time Picariello handed the car over to teammate Jeffrey Lee, the #88 car had a small gap to the cars behind.
When Lee took over the controls of the Mercedes-AMG GT3, he emerged from the pits still in the lead of the race. Lee was immediately on the pace despite the track surface, and made no mistakes whilst controlling the race from the front. However, in the closing stages of the race, a late safety car period meant that all the gaps were closed up, and Lee was immediately under pressure from the car behind. At the restart, Lee kept his head cool, and placed the Mercedes-AMG GT3 perfectly to defend his position. Despite many attempts by the car behind to pass, Lee held the lead in what was a drive of sheer determination, and took the #88 entry’s 2nd victory of the 2019 China GT Championship season.
Jeffrey Lee | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“What a weekend! To take two victories in two weeks is a great feeling, and especially in the wet conditions in Shanghai. It was nice to get more experience driving the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the wet, and to be able to qualify so strongly and fight at the front for both races shows our progress this year, and the pace that we have in the car. I’d like to thank the team for a great job again, and we look forward to the next round of the series in Qinhuangdao in a few weeks!”
Alessio Picariello | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Shanghai has been a challenging one. Grip level was really low all weekend long so it wasn’t easy for us and our crew to find the best compromises. I had traffic and made a mistake in qualifying which cost me Pole Position, and Race 1 wasn’t ideal but we managed to bounce back in Race 2 which is a strong point. We learned a lot and we are looking forward to be back at the next round!”