Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS – Round 1, Buriram, Thailand
The 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia season got off to a perfect start for JMR Racing’s HH Tunku Abu Bakar Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Ibrahim, the Tunku Putera of Johor, who clinched a first career pole position and race win at the Chang International Circuit, at Buriram, Thailand.
After Tunku Abu Bakar claimed his first-ever qualifying pole just hours earlier, heavy rain delayed the start of Saturday’s first race, which forced the drivers to start under safety car conditions.
Driving a Mercedes-AMG powered by Triple Eight Race Engineering, Tunku Abu Bakar drove very well on the wet track to maintain fourth position until the mandatory pit window. He then handed the car over to partner Luca Stolz, who jumped to the front of the field, and put in fast laps around the drying track to take the chequered flag with a 10-second lead.
Meanwhile, HH Tunku Abdul Rahman Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Ibrahim and race partner Broc Feeney finished the race in 11th place.
Sunday’s second race proved to be a challenging one for the JMR team. Pro drivers Stolz and Feeney both started from the second row of the grid in third and fourth respectively, and continued to hold good track position throughout their drives.
On-track incidents and safety car timing hampered the progress of the Princes once they got behind the wheel after the mandatory pit-stop. Ultimately the race was red-flagged and shortened after a multi-car incident, leaving Tunku Abdul Rahman crossing the line in seventh, and Tunku Abu Bakar in 12th.
The second round of the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia will be held at the Fuji International Speedway on 16-18 June.
HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim: “Yesterday was an amazing day. Qualifying on pole was a real highlight in my career so far, and I was very happy to take my first win. Conditions were a bit tricky, but myself, Luca and the team all did a great job. It would’ve been nice to have scored some points today as well, but we’re still very happy with this weekend and we’re looking forward to Fuji.”
Luca Stolz: “You saw how quickly the weather conditions changed yesterday; it was fun but challenging, so well done to the Triple Eight guys. Thanks to them, they did the perfect move and it turned out to be a perfect day.”
Roland Dane (Triple Eight Race Engineering founder): “Saturday was a great day with Prince Abu Bakar’s first win; it was a big moment and it couldn’t have been better. When I first met him, he was a teenager having run ripping around the circuit in Johor. Watching him come up and get a handle on racing GT3s so fast is great to watch and be part of. Sunday’s racing was mixed with a few errors, but we’re leaving with the cars in one piece, when there are a lot of other cars that aren’t. We’ll learn from today’s race, but will also enjoy yesterday’s special win.”
HH Tunku Abdul Rahman Ibrahim: “I’m so proud to see the achievement of Abu Bakar and Luca Stolz in the 88 car this weekend. I’ve been trying to build my younger brother up as a driver and an athlete over the past couple of years and I’m really proud to see it all coming together. To see him perform so well yesterday was exceptional.
For us in the 888 car, this obviously wasn’t the weekend we wanted. Today’s race was tough for everyone, but we now know what we need to work on, and we’ll keep moving forward as a team as we head to Fuji. I was really successful there last year, so I’m looking forward to it, and leaving this first round behind us.”
Results – 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia, Buriram, Thailand
Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim – P1
Luca Stolz – P3
Broc Feeney – P4
Prince Jefri Ibrahim – P10
Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim /Luca Stol – P1
Prince Jefri Ibrahim/Broc Feeney – P11
Broc Feeney/Prince Jefri Ibrahim – P7
Luca Stolz/Prince Abu Bakar Ibrahim – P12