Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS – Races 11 and 12, Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
Johor Motorsports Racing Team driver His Highness Tunku Abu Bakar Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Ibrahim has finished the Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Championship in a remarkable second overall, after an incredible final weekend racing at Sepang.
Tunku Abu Bakar Mikaël and pro driver Grenier capitalised on the home ground advantage to finish the weekend with two P3 results, enabling the young Malaysian Prince to finish the series in a well-deserved runner-up position.
At the same time, His Highness Tunku Abdul Rahman Al-Haj Ibni Sultan Ibrahim and race partner, Broc Feeney finished the weekend with two 11th-place results.
Powered by Triple Eight Race Engineering, the 88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 drivers of Tunku Abu Bakar and Grenier proved to have front-running pace from the qualifying sessions, when they finished fifth- and third-fastest respectively.
Saturday’s race 11 was a chaotic one, as a series of crashes in the first half of the race saw the race red-flagged and mostly run under yellow flag safety car conditions.
Tunku Abu Bakar stayed out of trouble and ended his stint in P6. Grenier then pushed hard and made several spectacular passing moves to move into third place, which he held to the end of the race, keeping the team’s championship hopes alive heading into Sunday’s final round.
In the same race, the 888 car driven by Tunku Abdul Rahman and Broc Feeney was one of the biggest movers on the grid as they worked their way from a P17 starting position to P11.
Sunday’s 12th and final race of the 2023 season was a much more straightforward affair. Grenier started the race from the second row of the grid and he and Tunku Abu Bakar held strong in third position for the duration of the hour-long race, well within striking distance if the two leading cars made a mistake.
The moment didn’t come and Tunku Abu Bakar guided the 88 car across the finish-line in P3 and establishing himself as the GT World Challenge vice champion for 2023.
Further back, Feeney and Tunku Abdul Rahman found themselves battling on the edge of the points-paying positions for the entire race, finishing with another consistent 11th-place result.
In the final championship standings, Tunku Abu Bakar (137 points) finished five points behind champion Anthony Liu Xiu from China (142 points). Third place went to China’s Lu Wei (133 points).
HH Tunku Abu Bakar: “I tried my best and I wish I could’ve won the race, but we struggled with the pace towards the end. We’ve always been strong here at Sepang and we’ve podiumed here before, so to finish P2 in the championship was a good result. We made a lot of progress this year with the team, but also myself as a driver. Hopefully we can be stronger again next year and obtain the championship.”
Mikaël Grenier: “It was a good weekend of racing, and I’m happy for Abu finishing second in the championship, and being able to drive with him at two rounds this year. We wanted to win this weekend as there was quite a big points’ gap. We reduced that deficit quite a lot over the two days, even though the cars ahead of us were quick out of the corners today. It was difficult to fight with them, but we still managed to finish on the podium, even with a five- second pit handicap. I’ve really enjoyed racing with the Triple Eight Race Engineering team. They’re a super cool team with good cars and I hope to be back soon.”
HH Tunku Abdul Rahman: “This was one of the toughest years for racing for me, and we had to adapt quite a lot. I’ve won a championship and been on the podium in the past, but I think one of the biggest things I’ll take away from this year is the amazing team of family and friends that we have formed here at JMR. It’s been an incredible time and we have a really strong bond. We’ve all worked hard and Abu has been driving so well all year, and has improved at every race he’s been to. We’ve tried our best to support him in any way we can, and at this last round with all our family and friends here, it’s been a bit emotional and I’m truly grateful to everyone who’s supported us. We still want to win another championship, so we’re not satisfied with where we are now – we’ll keep pushing to greater heights next year.”
Roland Dane, Team Principal: “This has been a really good second season for Prince Abu Bakar, and we couldn’t be happier to see him finish the GT World Challenge Asia Mikaël Grenier. Prince Abu Bakar has shown his potential for the future in a massive way, and to have the finale here in the team’s home country and home circuit makes it more special. We’ve had a great fight with the Craft Bamboo team that went right to the final race, and full credit to them on a great season of racing.”
Results – 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia, Sepang International Circuit
Mikaël Grenier – P3
HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim – P3
Broc Feeney – P11
HH Tunku Abdul Rahman Ibrahim – P17
Race 1 (Round 11):
HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim /Mikaël Grenier – P3
HH Tunku Abdul Rahman Ibrahim/Broc Feeney – P11
Race 2 (Round 12):
Mikaël Grenier /HH Tunku Abu Bakar Ibrahim – P3
Broc Feeney /HH Tunku Abdul Rahman Ibrahim – P11