The #35 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 03R Nissan has won the first race of the 2016-2017 season of the Asian Le Mans Series, here at the Zhuhai International Circuit. Ho-Pin Tung and Gustavo Menezes crossed the line first after a very eventful race that saw close action between all four classes. Algarve Pro Racing’s #24 Ligier JSP2 Judd and #25 Ligier JSP2 Nissan were second and third respectively.
In LMP3, it was another victory for Jackie Chan DC Racing on home soil, as the #1 Ligier JSP3 took the class win, driven by David Cheng, Pu Jun Jin and James Winslow. In GT, pole sitters #38 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3, driven by Nasrat Muzayyin, Rui Aguas and Marco Cioci, took the class win, finishing 5th overall.
After Saturday’s changeable conditions, the weather was cooler and dryer today, much to the advantage of the teams. The morning started with an optional warm up session in which 10 cars took part, and saw the #26 Tockwith Motorsports Ligier JSP3 set the fastest lap of 1:33.616.
At 1 o’clock, the race got underway in front of 20’000 spectators, and saw Ho-Pin Tung make a great start in the #35 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 03R Nissan, taking the lead at the end of the straight. The race was an eventful one however and with four safety car periods in the first hour of the race to retrieve cars from the gravel beds, the field shuffled considerably as teams made strategic pit stop decisions. This even saw a moment where the top three cars racing were from three different classes!
The fight amongst the leaders arranged itself in the last hour, with three of the LMP2 cars coming to the fore – the #24 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Judd, the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Nissan and the #35 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 03R Nissan. The #25 had made good progress back up the field after having had a collision with the #8 Race Performance Oreca 03R Judd which set them both in the gravel and lost them time and positions. Up in the lead, the fight was on between the #35 Oreca 03R Judd and the #24 Ligier JSP2 Nissan. Despite having to take a drive through penalty in the last half hour, the Jackie Chan DC Racing crew kept a hold of the lead and took the win. The #24 Algarve Pro Racing car, with Tacksung Kim, Andrea Roda and Matthew McMurry sharing the drive, finished 44 seconds behind them, taking second. Third went to the crew of the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Nissan, Michael Munemann, Nicky Catsburg and Andrea Pizzitola.
The LMP3 cars really held their own during the race, with the #26 Tockwith Motorsports Ligier JSP3 even leading overall for a number of laps. After a lot of movement up and down the field, the #1 Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier JSP3 came out victorious in the class. James Winslow, David Cheng and Pu Jun Jin shared the drive and added to the team’s Asian Le Mans winning track record. After a very strong race as well, the Tockwith Motorsports duo of Nigel Moore and Phil Hanson finished second in their Ligier JSP3. Third in LMP3 was the #85 G-Print by Triple 1 Racing Ligier JSP3, driven by Hanss Lin and Julio Acosta. This podium is a great result for the newly-established team who have really struggled this weekend, after some of their tools were never delivered and they had to work hard to make up for it.
After a tough start to the weekend, the sole car in the CN class, the #68 PS Racing Ligier JS53, which was to be driven by Kenji Abe, Akihiro Asai and Qin Tianqi, unfortunately stopped on the side of the track after just over an hour of racing.
The competition was also strong in the GT Class, with some GTs acing ahead of the LMP3 cars and setting similar lap times. Pole sitters #38 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 took the win, finishing 5th overall, thanks to the combined efforts of Nasrat Muzayyin, Rui Aguas and Marco Cioci. Second place went to the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GT3, with Mok Weng Sun, Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin sharing the wheel. They led the class by turns, fighting hard for positions, but couldn’t overtake at the end, finishing just over a second behind the class leaders. Third went to the #6 VS Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3, whose drivers Kei Cozzolino, Adrian Zaugg and Corey Lewis also delivered an impressive performance, having started 19th on the grid and managed to lead the GT class as well.
Overall, it’s been a great first weekend for the season at the Zhuhai International Circuit, with 29 cars on the grid and with 20’000 people coming to watch the 4-Hour Race on Sunday. The next round will take place over the weekend of 3-4 December in Fuji, Japan, just over a month from now.
See you there for more great racing