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Local racer gets a taste of Far East after debut in China

PUBLISHED: 07:23 26 October 2017

Tom Ashton speaking to team-mate Billy Lo at the China GT Championship. Picture: Submitted

Tom Ashton speaking to team-mate Billy Lo at the China GT Championship. Picture: Submitted

Archant

Tom Ashton has recently returned from a successful visit to mainland China, making his debut in the China GT Championship and helping the local Xtreme Motorsport team to a pair of second places.

“We had the pace to challenge for the wins but it didn’t quite happen,” reflected the Uggeshall racer.

In the past few seasons Ashton has clocked up vast experience in GT and sports cars racing around Europe, including Snetterton last year in the visiting Dutch Super Car series, and was drafted in to the Chinese Radical works team as team-mate to Hong Kong-based Billy Lo.

The meeting didn’t start well for the crew, with a drivetrain issue preventing them from taking part in qualifying on the new Zhejiang International Circuit, meaning the local racer had to start race one from the back of the grid in the Radical RXC, built in Peterborough.

Ashton, who thrives in wet conditions, tore through the field on a soaking wet track to hand over to team-mate Lo with a 13-second lead.

“After the driver change, with the win in sight, a safety car allowed the others to catch up and we lost the lead with two laps to go,” said Ashton on the frustration on seeing a debut victory slip away.

The rain was worse for the second race, with the track partially flooded, with Lo starting from sixth on the grid and he steadily worked his way into second place, just two seconds behind the leader, before handing over to Ashton who had to wait an additional 20 seconds in the pits due to his FIA driver grading.

Fired-up Ashton put in another storming drive and managed to reclaim second place, but despite closing in on the leader the local racer ran out of laps, having to settle for a second runners-up place.

“My familiarity with the car and experience of racing in the wet in Europe really helped me this weekend. It’s been a great experience in a very professionally run championship” added Ashton.

“I was delighted to help the team secure second in the series with a pair of second places in some very tricky conditions to mark the first event held at the new Zhejiang International Circuit.”

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