November 24, 2019

Gary Huang takes popular SIGP Nitro class win

Gary Huang has taken an emotional win tonight in Xiamen, China in the 1/8th Main final. The Xray driver overcame a flameout to take a very popular win in front of a partisan crowd at the SIGP. Behind it was Merlin Depta who finished in 2nd place, one and a half laps back, the German driver leading following the Chinese driver’s flameout. Completing the podium here at the ARC International Raceway was veteran Italian racer Marco Vanni. Pole sitter Jeff Hamon had a troubled race as he lost touch with Gary Huang early on before hitting major engine troubles, the result of the Australian having set his engine too lean prior to the final. Feeling the win was retribution for not being able to travel to the Worlds last month in California due to visa problems, long time mechanic Gavin Kwok was overcome with emotion as his driver took the checkered flag. Explaining his flameout, he said he was on his in-lap when the Max engine rolled to a stop near the end of the lap. The Xray driver was running 2 laps more than everyone else but he believes it was the smaller tires that had increased consumption and caught them out. Restarted and back on track he battled his way back from 4th, pushing like crazy to take over the lead again with 15 minutes left and hold on for the rest of the race and take his first SIGP nitro win.

Merlin Depta said he had ‘no pace and no tires’, the Serpent driver changing tires 3 times in the final. Explaining that when he ran yesterday evening the track was super sticky and so to be safe focused on making his car easy to drive but with the traction lower than expected the car ended up pushing too much. Leading for a time after Huang flamed out, he just didn’t have the pace to match the Xray driver and so dropped back to 2nd and battling with Ray Poon. Very pleased with his pit crew, the first time in the pitlane at a race for his girlfriend, Merlin was none the less pleased with 2nd place saying ‘I’ll take it’.

Taking the final podium spot, Marco Vanni joked that he was an ‘old man’ who just kept going, ‘just kept driving’. The Shepherd driver was also in 3rd place 2 years ago when he was last in Xiamen, saying he likes this area of China and especially the track will hope to be back again next year. Starting from 8th place, the Italian worked his way slowly and methodically through the field, taking the 3rd spot off Hong Kong driver Ray Poon 10 laps from the end of the race, the Infinity driver having led as the tire stops shuffled through having to settled for 4th. Hay Lai would finish in 5th place, just in front of Charlee P in 6th, who was another driver to lead until he lost a front tire exiting the pits after his tire stop.

In the GT class it was an epic battle all race long between Serpent driver and top qualifier Felix Law and 2nd place starter Charlee P driving for the Maxima team. The pair fought it out for the entire 45 minutes, never more than a few car lengths apart the whole time. Paphon took the lead about a quarter of the way through the race and held it for about 20 minutes before Felix took back with 12 minutes to go. From there they would push themselves even harder, with Paphon getting back in front and staying there for good with 10 laps to go. In the end only 2 seconds separated them. Afterwards Felix felt that his motor started to go rich which prevented him from being able to pressure Paphon even more at the end. Behind the lead pair young Guangzhou native Ma Haoran rounded out the podium, a finalist in the EP class yesterday, he put in a mature race to finish just 4 laps behind the much more experienced pair ahead. Behind the Xray driver Simon Kau was 4th, while Korea’s Choi Nak Sung completed the top 5.

View the complete event results here.

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