I didn’t know about this race until I got a recent call from the Chinese team, FIST Auto, operated by the Taiwanese AAI Motorsports squad. Of course I jumped at the opportunity, as I’d heard a lot of good thing about the Mercedes AMG GT car, so it was going to be great to experience to try it first-hand.
The China GT Masters is a pro-am championship and I shared the car with my longstanding Asian Le Mans team mate, Junsan Chen. He did a great job in the car all weekend, including putting the car on pole position in his qualifying session. I also had a good session and qualified on pole, which set us up for a strong race weekend. However, due to a typhoon and possibly the heaviest rain I’ve ever seen, the start of race 1 was delayed and of course, wet! I started the race and got off to a good start, managing to pull a four second lead over the Audi in second position. Unfortunately, all of that hard work was undone when the safety car came out shortly before our pit stop so at this point, the team decided I handed the car over to Junsan for the remainder of the race. Unfortunately, although he fought hard, he couldn’t quite hold off the other AMG, so we had to settle for second position.
On Sunday it was Junsan’s turn to start the race from pole position, but through no fault of his, his lead was cut short when he got hit by an Audi at the first corner. Although this caused some body damage it wasn’t enough to take us out of the race and Junsan kept up a good pace to hand the car over to me at the halfway point, in third position. I made up one place during my stint to again finish on the podium in second position.
The team and the car were great and although we didn’t come away with the results we deserved, it was a solid weekend for FIST Auto, AAI Motorsports and AMG Driving Academy China and I look forward to working with them again.