12 July 2023
Can’t keep a good Tan down… Dillan strikes back in Bathurst to retake Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Asia Sprint Series lead
Dillan Tan produced a masterful performance to catapult himself back into the lead of the Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Asia Sprint Series with a second victory of the year at Bathurst.
The Legion of Racers ace – and reigning category champion – bounced back from a disappointing last round at Donington Park with a pole-to-flag showing in the third round of the season in Australia, putting the Mercedes-AMG driver back atop the championship standings.
But perhaps the biggest drama came in the Silver class, where former championship leader Luke Addison was eliminated in a huge multi-car tangle early on, leaving Russel Reyes to become the third different winner in as many rounds, with the JMX Phantom driver also ascending to the top of the class points table.
With the last round at Donington suiting the BMW brigade so well, the tables were turned by the tight and twisty Bathurst layout, and the writing was on the wall when Tan rocketed his #144 Mercedes-AMG to pole position by just half a tenth.
The surprise of the session was the resurgence of Honda’s NSX GT3, which enjoyed a 40kg reduction in the Balance of Performance for this round, with Fadhli Rachmat making the most of his lightened Tarmac Works-run car to snag second on the grid behind Tan.
Rachmat made a decent enough start but couldn’t find a way through as Tan held the line through turn one and up toward Quarry Corner. That set the tone, as the top two gradually pulled clear as things kicked off behind them.
By the time the pit window opened, Tan had edged his lead out to just under two seconds, that, combined with a super-slick pit stop, helped the Mercedes-AMG rejoin in clean air and it was game over, as Tan ticked off impressively consistent lap times to scamper away to a clear win.
But if things at the front were rather settled, what was going on behind wasn’t. After a disappointing first two rounds, Andika Rama Maulana was back on form aboard the sister Legion of Racers Mercedes-AMG, qualifying well and running third, but with Philippa Boquida’s BS+Competition BMW M4 all over the rear of the AMG.
This battled raged until the pit window, when Boquida stopped first in the hope of undercutting her rival, but a rapid in-lap from Maulana meant he rejoined the track a fraction ahead. Their fighting had also brought Naquib Azlan’s McLaren Axle Sports 720S Evo into play, and suddenly it became a three-way fight right after the pit window. Azlan edged ahead of Boquida, but was elbowed wide into Quarry, earning the BMW driver a penalty and putting Maulana clear on his way to the final step of the podium.
Things weren’t settled between Boquida and Azlan either, as the two cars collided not once, but twice, into The Chase chicane as the McLaren desperately tried to find a way past. While they finished fourth and fifth on the road, both scooped penalties for their parts in the various clashes, dropping them down to fifth (Boquida) and 11th (Azlan).
That elevated runaway Silver leader Russel Reyes to a spot in the overall top four. The JMX Phantom BMW driver didn’t put a wheel wrong all race, qualifying well clear of his class competition and then putting in a controlled drive to a top result. In doing so, Reyes became the third different Silver winner in as many races, and grabbed the championship lead after huge drama behind.
Luke Addison led the class points coming into the event, but when he could only manage P26 in qualifying aboard his Genisus Esports BMW there would always be a risk on a track as tight at Bathurst. Addison was then caught up in a huge 11-car tangle on the run out of Quarry on lap one, putting him out on the spot.
KuiSheng Huang (Full Pace Racing Porsche) and Shuning Gong (DriveJustBoyz Racing Team Audi R8) completed the Silver class podium, with Huang doing enough to nab second in the points, while fifth in class helped Rialto Ristofani (MPRGP BMW) also vault past the non-scoring Addison in the table.
Donington Park winner Ferris Stanley had a muted event, coming home a clean sixth in class in his BMW M Team BS+Competition M4, which keeps him second in the Pro class standings, 12pts behind Tan.
The next round of the Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Asia Sprint Series takes place at Kyalami in South Africa on August 9.