A one-three finish at the Shanghai International Circuit (19-20 October) capped off a remarkable season and secured the 2016 GT Asia Series Drivers’ and Pro Cup titles for FFF Racing Team and Lamborghini Squadra Corse drivers, Edoardo Liberati and Andrea Amici.
The GT Asia Series has been more competitive than ever before and has experienced a significant spike in its audience figures in 2016, with coverage beamed out to millions of Far Eastern viewers via FOX Sports and Star Sports, as well as 27 online media platforms.
Its soaring popularity can be attributed to a rise in the calibre of the entries and increased competition; six different winning combinations in the first ten rounds meant that no fewer than 13 drivers, seven teams and four marques entered the Shanghai decider with a mathematical shot of the title.
Liberati and Amici have been quick and consistent all season long and the Lamborghini Squadra Corse recruits held a nine-point lead over Anthony Liu and Davide Rizzo in the Drivers’ standings, thanks to six podiums and one race win achieved in Fuji, Japan.
FFF Racing used free practice to good effect, tuning its Lamborghini Huracans for a wet and dry track to remain at the top end of the timesheets with the #55 machine of Liberati and Amici and the #15 of Jeroen Mul and Marco Mapelli.
However, conditions deteriorated just as the first part of qualifying began and, with no time to switch from a dry setup, the Roger Dubuis Lamborghinis concluded the rain-affected session out of position, with the #15 entry in fifth and the title-contending #55 seventh on the race one grid.
Mercifully, FFF Racing’s mechanics had sufficient time to apply a wet configuration for qualifying two, which determines the starting order for the week’s second race, and pole position went Liberati and Amici’s way, with Mul and Mapelli going fourth fastest.
Race one was treated as a damage limitation exercise, as FFF Racing would have to overturn a hefty 112-second pit stop success penalty, while the title-rivalling #37 Ferrari was obliged to stay stationary for a minimum of 91 seconds.
However, heavy downpours kept the Shanghai International Circuit saturated for the entire day and FFF Racing was relieved of some pressure when championship contenders Liu and Rizzo were eliminated in a collision and others succumbed to the treacherous conditions.
Aware that points win prizes, the team wisely focused on bringing Liberati and Amici home safely in seventh while the sister Huracan held on in P5 to the flag.
But FFF Racing wanted to secure the title in style by converting pole position into a race two victory, and car #55 established a comfortable six-second advantage over the sister Roger Dubuis-liveried Lamborghini in P2 before the compulsory driver-changes.
After serving lengthy pit stop penalties, the #15 car of Mul and Mapelli found its way to the front, but the #55 of Liberati and Amici had the tough task of fending off the Audi R8 LMS of Marchy Lee and Adderly Fong in a protracted tussle for the final podium place.
The #15 FFF Huracan stretched its legs out front to take the win and an unyielding rear-guard action from the #55 guaranteed an FFF Racing one-three in the final race of the season.
Third place was enough to secure the 2016 GT Asia Drivers’ and Pro Cup titles for Liberati and Amici, who extended their advantage to 18 points in the final classification.
FFF Racing occupied the first and third steps of the Shanghai winners’ rostrum and Team Owner, Sean Fu Songyang, said: “What a fantastic feeling! To be celebrating such amazing race and championship results in only our second season in the GT Asia Series is overwhelming. To achieve titles with the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 against a high-calibre field that consists of several other manufacturers makes this even more special. FFF Racing Team and its drivers, Edoardo (Liberati) and Andrea (Amici) have been fantastic all year and I am very proud of what we have achieved.”