As the Asian Le Mans Series prepares for its final race of the 2019-2020 season, we look back to last weekend’s race, the 4 Hours of Sepang.
The first night race for the Series was not without its challenges. Teams withdrawing due to staff quarantined because of the Corona Virus was one thing, losing a team because of car damage after the Australian race was another but the big thing to contend with was the Malaysian weather.
It was fickle and once again the weather gods gave the race organisers a lot to deal with. A major storm hit the race in the lead up which not only delayed the event but also damaged television equipment. There was concern for some camera operators but fortunately all were fine.
A mammoth effort on site meant that the race was able to go ahead – if a little delayed – and we all got to see if for free through the various streaming options.
Once the racing got going, it certainly saw its fair share of ontrack action and tactics. The last round saw no post-race penalties but this race we weren’t so lucky. Though two penalties were for lights not working on the cars, so those penalties, unfortunate as they were, were always going to be handed out.
Sadly enough for the Eurasia Motorsport team, it was their Ligier that suffered from the penalty. The 10 second stop-and-go penalty was converted post-race to a 36 second penalty. It shifted them from a 26 second win to a 10 second deficit. Sad, yes, but that is one of the clearer rules of the sport.
The beneficiary was the appropriately named Thunderhead Carlin squad. These guys lost the win in round one due to a penalty, so it is somewhat fitting that they gain from this situation.
It is also a much needed success for the Dallara P217. While the IMSA variant has seen much success with the Cadillac package, the ACO version has been much maligned and quite unloved by teams that have run it. The Dallara now sits in second in the title race with one round to go.
It was a solid effort from the driving trio of Jack Manchester, Harry Tincknell and Ben Barnicoat to take advantage of the situation provided. They kept it together when yellow flags went against them during the pitstop cycles and did what they needed to do to give Carlin their first ACO win.
The consolation for the Eurasia team was their third, second place in a row – scant reward but nevertheless their consistency and pace has remained.
A shoutout should go to the Oreca of K2 Uchino Racing with Shaun Thong putting the car into a strong lead before a long pitstop ruined their run.
Now coming into the final round, one that the ACO have inexplicably clashed with a WEC round, the big fight is in LMP3 and GT with those two Championships being separated by just three points each.
The #13 InterEuropol Ligier will fight it out against the Norma from Nielsen Racing – each with a win and a second this year. What separates them is the race in Malaysia where InterEuropol took a podium, ahead of the Nielsen Racing entry in fourth.
It was an incredible effort from Nielsen Racing who had to affect repairs at the track to a bellhousing. Rushing to find local services, the team needed the rain delay to make the repairs, starting the race a lap down. But this frantic effort kept them in the Championship fight.
That is a winner takes all fight in the final round.
It is the same but with four cars in contention in the GT competition.
The JLOC Lamborghini team have shown their capabilities with a win and a second this year but a trio of Ferraris are looking to ruin the Lamborghini party.
With the Car Guy Racing Ferrari, having taken a win, the HubAuto Corsa Ferrari taking two, second place finishes, they are just three points in arrears. The Spirit of Race Ferrari is just four points back with two, third places this season.
Rick Ware Racing have the LMP AM title sewn up and there is a fight between the G-Drive with Algarve team, Thunderhead Carlin and Eurasia for the LMP2 honours.
G-Drive-Algarve have a nine point lead on Thunderhead-Carlin with Eurasia a further point back.
In a year that has seen many points given and taken by penalties, a clean race will be important at the 4 Hours of Buriram.
With 25 points on offer for the victor, the last race will be one not to miss.
The RacerViews info
By Sam Tickell
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