The # 25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Nissan has won the 4 Hours of Sepang, taking their first victory of the season and claiming the championship title. They finished ahead of the #8 Race Performance Oreca 03R Judd and their sister car, the #24 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Judd. In LMP3, the #26 Tockwith Motorsports Ligier JSP3 managed to claim the class victory in the last few laps, ensuring their class title as well. The #31 Team Audi Korea Audi R8 LMS GT3 scored their first win of the season in the GT class, and the #96 TKS Porsche 911 GT3 Cup made their return to the series and won the GT Cup class.
On the hottest day of the race weekend so far, the 25 cars took to the track for the final race of the 2016-2017 Asian Le Mans Series, the 4 Hours of Sepang. It wasn’t the cleanest race start of the season,after an incident at turn 1 on the first lap saw the #35 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 03R Nissan get a puncture which brought the safety car out as it had to make its way slowly back to the pits, damaging the bodywork as it went along. They rejoined a couple of times, before retiring at the end of the first hour with engine trouble. This left the championship fight open to both Algarve Pro Racing crews.
By the second hour, the race had settled and the near continuous shuffle in the top three spots began, with the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Nissan, driven by Aidan Read, Andrea Roda and Andrea Pizzitola coming out victorious and crossing the line first. The fight for second place was quite strong, with the crew of the #8 Race Performance Oreca 03R Judd, Giorgio Maggi, Struan Moore and Fabien Schiller taking the second step on the podium, after a slow pit stop cost the crew of the #24 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Judd precious seconds and relegated them to third, but Tacksung Kim, Michael Munemann and Mark Patterson seemed pleased with their result.
The LMP3 class saw a strong battle between the Ligier JSP3 cars, who performed very well throughout the race. After the incident on lap one, Nigel Moore in the #26 Tockwith Motorsports Ligier JSP3 managed to avoid the LMP2 cars that were caught up and ended up leading the race overall for several laps. With Phil Hanson sharing the stints, they managed to claim the LMP3 class win and LMP3 Championship title. They didn’t have it easy though, and had to fight off strong competition from the #85 G-Print by Triple 1 Racing Ligier JSP3, shared by Hanss Lin and Shaun Thong Wei Fung, who finished second. We also saw a strong performance from the #1 Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier JSP3, with James Winslow, David Cheng and Hiroki Yoshida sharing the drive to come third in class.
It hasn’t been an easy weekend for the Ginetta LMP3 cars, who had showed their strength at Sepang during the Sprint Cup last year. The highest placed was the #69 Aylezo Ecotint Racing Ginetta LMP3, with Zen Low, Weiron Tan and Riki Christodoulou, who finished 4th in class, 14th overall, ahead of the #99 Wineurasia Ligier JSP3 with Scott Andrews, William Lok and Devon Modell finishing 5th in class.
Leading the LMP3 class as the weekend began, the #4 ARC Bratislava Ginetta had some issues with their car due to a collision which cost them time in the pits, and made them finish 6th in class. The sister car, the #7 ARC Bratislava Ginetta LMP3 was 7th in class. The PRT Racing Ginetta LMP3 also struggled after a collision and finished in the pits after losing a wheel.
The sole ADESS racing with us this weekend, the #93 FIST-Team AAI ADESS 03 had an unfortunate end after a bumpy weekend, retiring in the pit box in the first hour with a broken transmission.
In the GT Class, the #31 Team Audi Korea Audi R8 LMS GT3 dominated the class for most of the race, with the trio of Kyong Ouk You, Marchy Lee and Alex Yoong delivering the team’s best performance of the season. Closing in was the pole-sitting #3 DH Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Rino Mastronardi, Alex Riberas and Olivier Beretta who took home second place, and the #37 Team BBT Ferrari 488 GT3 with Anthony Liu, Davide Rizzo and Alessandro Pier Guidi came third. The #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 managed a good climb up the field and finished fourth, with Mok Weng Sun, Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin sharing the drive. #5 DH Racing Ferrari 488 GT3’s 5th place secured their title and they will leave Sepang as GT Class champions and have a seat to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The GT Cup class saw the most action it’s had all season, with both entries equally matched and fighting for the win. Having done one round each, they started the weekend on equal points. The #77 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup went off into the gravel in the first hour, losing a bit of time, and letting the #96 create a decent gap. They never managed to catch them back up afterwards and the race and GT Cup title win went to the #96 TKS Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, shared between Shinyo Sano, Takuma Aoki and Shigeto Nagashima. The Team NZ crew came away with 2nd place on the podium for Graeme Dowsett, John Curran and Will Bamber.
After this busy final race of the season, we would like to congratulate our title champions, especially the three teams who now have invitations to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, Algarve Pro Racing, Tockwith Motorsports and DH Racing.
We hope to see you in the summer for the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup, and then in October for the next season of the Asian Le Mans Series, starting in China.