Highly-rated Chinese ace Weiron Tan endured a baptism of fire – or perhaps more appropriately rain – on his debut in the fiercely-disputed Blancpain GT Series Asia at Shanghai International Circuit last weekend, leaving him hoping for a ‘more positive’ time of things in the season finale at Zhejiang next month.
Tan and Absolute Racing team-mate Andrew Kim joined the Blancpain GT Series Asia field from the China GT Championship. Behind the wheel of the No.30 Bentley Continental GT3, the pair lapped 16th-quickest amongst the 29 high-calibre contenders in the first practice session before improving to 13th in FP2 as they narrowed the gap to the outright pace-setter by more than a second. The heavens opened ahead of qualifying, and on the wet track surface, Tan and Kim secured a respectable 12th on the grid for race one and 17th for race two, translating into fourth and ninth positions in the 11-strong Pro/Am class – but Lady Luck would stubbornly refuse to smile upon them in the races.
In Saturday’s encounter, Kim found himself with nowhere to go when he came upon a stationary car facing the wrong way on only the first lap, with the impact spelling an unexpectedly early bath. Further persistent rain the following day resulted in a safety car start to race two, and the action had not long resumed when 22-year-old Tan was sideswiped by a rival, dashing all hopes of a strong finish and restricting the Bentley crew to a frustrated 15th place at the chequered flag and seventh in Pro/Am.
With just one outing now remaining on his 2017 schedule at Zhejiang Circuit on 21/22 October, the CEFC Manor TRS Racing official test and reserve driver and former Caterham F1 Academy member – whose burgeoning career is managed by Williams Harfield Sports Group – revealed that he is fully focussed on signing off his maiden campaign of sportscar competition in style.
“Shanghai clearly wasn’t the weekend we had hoped for,” Tan reflected. “The conditions certainly made things challenging, and the Bentley struggled for pace in the rain compared to our GT3 rivals. It was very tricky to drive, not only in terms of finding the grip but also traction.
As expected, the level of competition was extremely high but we learned a lot as a team and the fact that the sister car was able to come home second in-class on Saturday proves the potential is there.
It was obviously unfortunate that my team-mate was put in a difficult position in race one which led to an unavoidable crash, and then a Ferrari collided with me in race two. Thank you very much to the team for a stellar job nonetheless. I’m already looking forward to a more positive weekend at Zhejiang!”