A solid first stint, combined with excellent pit work by the team, saw the pair take the lead at the driver change heading the #17 early race leading PTRS entry as the pit stops unfolded.
With a three second lead, the pressure was taken off Ciao as the #17 PTRS car was deemed to have infringed the pit stop minimum duration time by some 23 seconds and was duly called to serve the penalty by the Race Director, re-joining down the order and out of contention.
With the pressure off, and a healthy lead in excess of eight seconds over the second placed car, Ciao was able to control the pace and manage the gap to the flag to take a comfortable victory, or so it seemed.
As the other two Eurasia entered cars came across the line in a decent seventh for debutants Aidan Read and Nobuya Yamanaka and 11th for the Hong Kong pairing of Terrance Tse and Andy Yan after a troubled run punctuated with a couple of minor spins, the commotion over the results was beginning to unfold behind the scenes.
It became evident that the officials had in error given the 23 second penalty to car #17 after a miss-communication which should have seen the penalty awarded to the #23 car for a period of 17 seconds.
The remedy seen fit by the officials to reinstate the 17 car’s lost 45 seconds in the penalty stop overall awarding the victory to the #17 PTRS car.
But it wasn’t finished there. As the protests over the unprecedented decision rumbled on further penalties were awarded to three more cars who had now been deemed to have ‘jumped’ the start after the pole position car failed to accelerate cleanly as the lights went green, causing it to be passed by three cars before the line on the run to the first corner. The result being a fourth place for the #3 Eurasia ‘winning’ car.
Sunday’s second race was a much quieter affair, Read in the #36 car starting from the front row made a good start and maintained position, defending well and then setting fastest lap of the race chasing down the leader.
A spin whilst pushing saw the Australian drop back down the pack, running line astern with the two sister Eurasia cars in sixth, seventh and eighth. Contact for the #22 Eurasia entry saw Terrance Tse retire with a puncture and Patterson passed Japanese Yamanaka to finish first of the Eurasia runners in fourth position by the flag, replicating the opening races ‘corrected result’ with Yamanaka pleased to finish seventh in both races in his first International race meeting alongside Read.
Team Principle Mark Goddard was understandably frustrated by the sequence of events and the remedies employed by the officials. “Of course, we are very disappointed,” said Goddard. “It is a shame as the promoters are creating a really good series and have a quality entry after an excellent first year and there is so much potential in the (newly renamed) China Endurance Series for 2018 and the future.
“We have to ensure for the good of the championship that this kind of incident is eradicated to ensure the series fulfils its promise; I am confident that this was a one off and that the championship will continue to go from strength to strength.”
The series now moves on, both physically and from the events of Shanghai to Ningbo on the 26-27 May.