The Asian Le Mans Series has again delivered an action packed race up and down the grid. With tens of thousands packing the precinct, and in what was easily the hottest race of the season with ambient temperatures reaching 34 degrees during the race, the battles on track were fierce!
At the start of the race it was an Algavre Pro Racing 1-2 after a fantastic getaway from both of the team’s Bronze drivers, Ate Dirk De Jong (#24) and Christopher McMurry (#25). Phil Hanson in the Championship leading #22 United Autosports Ligier JS P2 Nissan was though able to pass them and take the lead early in the race. It was Hanson and his team mate Paul Di Resta that led most of the race before claiming their first Asian Le Mans Series race win, extending their Championship lead to 18 points. Whilst a perfectly timed pitstop when a full course yellow was called helped cement their position, the team ran without fault all weekend.
The #24 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2 Judd of Harrison Newey and Andrea Pizzitola came home second, followed by Matthieu Lahaye, Jean-Baptiste Lahaye, and Francois Hériau in the #35 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier JS P2 Judd. The French team picking up its first Asian Le Mans Series podium.
Nursing home the #4 ARC Bratislava Ligier JS P2 in to 4th position was Darren Burke. Due to an engine issue, Burke slowed significantly and lost third position overall to the Panis Barthez Ligier, He was though able to hold on to finish the race. The team also picking up the LMP2 AM Trophy win taking the Class Championship lead by 9 points.
In LMP3 the battle was intense from the start. Once again it was Nigel Moore in the #65 Viper Niza Racing Ligier JS P3 that made a storming start to be up to 4thoutright on the opening lap. His run was cut short after hitting debris and having to hit for new tyres. This left Matt Bell in the #3 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 to pull away at the front of the LMP3 field. As the race went on, it became a battle between the sister United Autosports car, the polesitting Ligier JS P3 of Chris Buncombe, Garett Grist and Wayne Boyd and the #13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier JS P3 of Jakub Smiechowski and Martin Hippe. After being forced to pit for loose body work, the #13 dropped out of contention for the win, but fought hard to secure second position and retain the LMP3 Championship lead. They now lead the LMP3 class by 8 points. In third place after the #3 suffered a broken exhaust and got stuck in 4thgear was the #79 Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Racing Ligier JS P3 of Tony Wells and Colin Noble.
In GT it was the #66 TianShi Racing Team Audi R8 LMS with Max Wiser that had a stunning start yet again to be comfortable leading the GT Class and running ahead of a number of the LMP3 entries early in the race. Class pole sitter, the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 dropped back to be 4th in Class in the early running.
1.5 hours into the race and there was a full course yellow after the #5 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage had a power steering and brake failure with Johnny Mowlem behind the wheel. The failure caused a scary moment for the Aston driver, but Mowlem did well to scrub off speed through the gravel trap making only light contact with the barrier. He would make it back to the pits where the team opted to retire the car.
After the first driver changes, it was GT Class Championship leader, Car Guy that continued their dominant run in the 2018/19 Season, with series newcomer and highly experienced racer, Jean Karl Vernay chasing hard in the #88 TianShi Racing Team Audi R8 LMS.
Once James Calado got in the #11 Car Guy Ferrari, he pulled away from Vernay in the #88 TianShi Racing Team Audi R8, and pole sitter, Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3. Despite a number of driving infringements that saw Calado receive multiple penalties, he pushed hard and ensured the Japanese team won their third race of the season to extend their lead in the Championship to 24 points.
Full results can be found here
Next up is the season finale, in 4 Hours of Sepang on Sunday, 24th of February.