Jonathan Venter finished the 2016 GT Asia season as the series’ most decorated driver, taking the most wins out of anyone throughout the twelve round competition. The young GT driver battled the weather in Shanghai on Thursday in a bid to claim the highest number of wins by the end of the season. It would not be easy though, as the big Bentley had a large success penalty to contend with in race one. The #8 Bentley would take home P8 in race one and use the limited repair time between races to prepare for the second race where the Absolute Racing pair could better challenge for the podium. Venter was able to finish the season with P4, just missing out on the podium but delivering a performance that secured his position as the most successful driver of the entire field.
Jonathan Venter was the first of the #8 Bentley pair to tackle the Shanghai circuit for the first qualifying session on Wednesday. With the car setup for a dry run, the untimely arrival of rain on the opening lap left Venter with a car that struggled to pull together its most representative time. He fought hard to steer the Bentley around the track and set a best time of 2:20.177s, which would see him start in P11 for Thursday’s first race.
Keita Sawa was up next for Q2 and recorded a 2:20.393s, giving Sawa a P5 start position for race two on Thursday afternoon.
Venter got race one underway and the weather had not abated since Wednesday, resulting in torrential track conditions. The Australian was able to make the most of the opening lap though, taking an incredible five positions. Unfortunately, the Bentley suffered an electrical issue which required Venter to reset the car, which was responsible for pushing Venter back down the order into P10. It was a setback but the Bentley driver forged ahead and drove a consistent stint in the trying conditions before handing over to his teammate, Keita Sawa. After a smooth pit stop that lasted 28 seconds thanks to the success penalty from winning the last round in August, Sawa kept the car out of trouble for the remainder of the race and brought the #8 Bentley back in P8. The pair just couldn’t make up the deficit from the success penalty in the wet but were still able to take home more championship points for Bentley Team Absolute’s Teams’ Championship campaign.
Jonathan Venter, #8 Bentley Driver
“I had an awesome start, I went from 11th to 6th in about four corners, then unfortunately had a bit of an electrical malfunction, so I had to do a hard reset of the car, which dropped us back to last position once again but Sawa-san did a good job in his stint to bring the car home cleanly in race one.”
With no success penalty to deal with in race two, the Bentley was in with a fighting chance and Sawa began the race from P5. He was soon able to make a move and snatch two places to take P3, a position he retained for the remainder of his stint in the still soaking conditions. Sawa changed over to Venter but the #8 car was passed during the driver swap, putting Venter in P4 for the beginning of his final stint of the season. As has become par for Venter during the GT Asia season, he drove a clean and measured race that kept the Bentley ahead of the competition and was key to bringing the car home in P4, just outside the podium. The resulting points haul helping Bentley Team Absolute to secure the Teams’ Championship title with a considerable margin. With the final race over, Venter finished ninth overall in the championship and cemented himself as the most successful driver of the 2016 season. He took home three wins in the #8 Bentley, which is a testament to the young GT driver’s pace and ability behind the wheel of a GT3 car.
Jonathan Venter, #8 Bentley Driver
“Sawa-san got a good start and was able to stay P3 for his stint and when he handed over to me we lost a position during the pit stop and I went out in fourth positon. From there it was just about managing the gap between the cars in front and the cars behind. I kept P4 and didn’t make any mistakes, so I am happy with that. Certainly sad to see the season end but we finished the year with the most wins out of anyone in the field, so that is a fantastic way to end the competition.”