Bentley Team Absolute Racing came into this past weekend at Road America needing to score championship points if they were going to stay in the championship hunt, but they were down from two cars to one after Andrew Palmer’s accident at Lime Rock at the last event. Therefore it all fell to Adderly Fong, the driver of the #88 Bentley Continental GT3.
Fong’s only previous experience with the track came from work with a racing sim. Palmer had been a big help so far this season, helping Fong get up to speed on each American track. With Andrew still recovering, it was up to Fong and his Absolute Racing teammates to figure the track out themselves.
Fortunately, the Continental GT3 has a very good record at the 4 mile long track which has some fast turns and a big straightaway. Bentley made their North American debut with the GT3 there in 2014. Last year Bentley Team Dyson racing took several poles and Chris Dyson nabbed a win at the track during a three event weekend.
With the knowledge of what setup had worked previously, the 2015 GT Asia Champion stepped up bit time, laying down the quickest qualifying time just as the checkered flag came out. Fong’s quick lap displaced what would have been an entirely Acura front row. The two Acuras from Real Time Racing were very fast, achieving top speeds some 6-7 mph faster on the straightaway than the rest of the field. This caused a lot of complaining on social media the entire weekend about balance of power (BOP).
From the start of race one, the Acura of Ryan Eversely pulled away from the Bentley and didn’t look back. With clean air in front of him, no one in the field was going to catch him. As the field came down the hill to turn 5, the car in front of Fong braked way short of the corner. Fong darted to the left throwing him off his line and causing him to over run the corner. He would battle back from fifth position.
Fong moved through the field and advanced to third behind the two Acuras when the final flag waved. His fastest lap qualified him to start 4th for race #2 on Sunday. That race began with the same Acura pushing Adderly’s Bentley down the straight. After an extended caution period, the race turned into a sprint to the finish. Fong worked through the field, picking off the #5 Nissan GTR GT3 and defending a great challenge by the #8 Cadillac ATS-V.R.
“It was fantastic to get a pole position for Bentley Team Absolute. My start was good, but the Acuras were very fast on the straights. I got a bit too eager on the opening lap trying to keep them behind me and I made a mistake. As I was fighting my way back to a podium finish, I had the pleasure of racing with some real legends in the sport like Johnny O’Connell and Patrick Long. It made for a memorable maiden World Challenge podium.”
The two podiums were Fong’s first here in the States with the World Challenge. He also scored enough points to push Bentley up to third in the championship. It was a great weekend for a team that has been pushing forward without their teammate.
“I was filled with emotion crossing the finish line, thinking about how we are carrying on the success in America that Andrew Palmer started. We missed him a great deal this weekend and continue to wish him a fast recovery.”
Fong next joins Absolute Racing’s three Bentley GT Asia effort this weekend in Japan. The next Pirelli World Challenge event is July 29th and 30th at Mid-Ohio in Lexington, Ohio.