Race Performance took a controlling victory in the second round of the 2016/17 Asian Le Mans Series, after a faultless all-round performance from Giorgio Maggi, Struan Moore and Fabien Schiller. The trio beat out the Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca of Ho-Pin Tung, 2016 FIA WEC LMP2 Drivers Champion Gustavo Menezes and Thomas Laurent, which led the race in the early stages.
Heading into Turn 1 at the start, the pole-sitting #25 Algarve Pro Ligier slipped down to third place, letting both Orecas through into first and second.
It was a tough outing for the Algarve Pro team, with its Ligiers finishing a distant third and fourth overall in the race, finishing off the leading lap. Andrea Pizzitola in the #25 closed the gap at the end to Menezes ahead, but it was too little too late as the team ended up making two more stops than the winner which ultimately prevented the car from featuring in the lead battle.
For the #24 Judd-engined Ligier of Jonathan Hirschi, Tacksung Kim, Mark Patterson it was a similar story. The car suffered from a lack of pace, having to drive through the field from 16th at the start of the race.
Up front it was therefore a story of two Orecas. The Jackie Chan O3R led the race at the start, while Ho-Pin Tung was aboard the car. But its pace dropped off in the second half of the race towards the end of Thomas Laurent and Menezes’ stints with an eco issue costing it straight-line speed, before a late splash and dash sealing its fate put an end to its challenge. It allowed Moore to cruise to the line almost two minutes ahead.
First on the road after the LMP2 runners was the GT class winners in the #5 DH Racing Ferrari. Stephane Lemeret, Michele Rugolo and Mattieu Vaxiviere had a great run in the race, emerging in the lead in the final hour, scoring the team’s maiden AsLMS victory.
The GT class as a whole was a fruit machine, after many of the teams opted for an early stop in the opening laps after the PS Racing Adess crashed and brought out the Safety Car. It meant the class was rarely in total sync.
Finishing second in the class, after a lengthy battle with the DH Racing 488 was a the Ferrari of GT Asia regulars Team BBT with Davide Rizzo, Anthony Liu and Alessandro Pier Guidi sharing driving duties.
At the halfway mark, Rizzo had a lengthy battle with Rugolo and Matt Griffin in the Clearwater Racing 488 which came home seventh in the class after a late issue. It turned out to be a turning point in the race, with DH and BBT both staking their claim at the front of the field, battling which was then for the podium spots.
OD Racing’s McLaren was leading at the time of the Griffin, Sawa, Rizzo scrap, but the team was handed a costly stop-hold penalty for exiting the pits under red light conditions which cost it a chance at winning the class. The sole 650S GT3 in the race ended up eighth in the GT category.
At the head of the field, DH and BBT’s 488s came home ahead of the #91 Team AAI BMW M6 which inherited the final podium place in the closing laps after the VS Racing Lamborghini was forced to make a splash that demoted it to fourth.
In the opening stages of the race the #91 AAI BMW took charge, Philipp Eng creating a healthy lead which was eventually nullified by a second Safety Car period that was called to allow the marshals to attend to the Spirt of Race Ferrari which got stranded on the exit of Turn 15 an hour into the race.
The BMW eventually finished up a lap down, over 30 and 50 seconds ahead of the VS Lamborghini and second DH Racing Ferrari which finished up the day fifth and sixth in the class.
In LMP3, British outfit Tockwith Motorsport also scored its debut Asian Le Mans class win in the race. Nigel Moore and Phil Hanson drove superbly throughout, seeing off challenges from the G-Print and Jackie Chan Ligers and PRT Ginetta after Moore was tapped into a spin by Charlie Robertson in the opening flurry battling for the class lead and battled back through the pack.
It looked as it the G-Print Ligier of Hanss Lin and Shaun Thong Wei Fung had the class sewn up as the final hour began though, but the Ligier lost a tyre with Lin aboard, costing the team time and forcing it to make an extra stop. The car failed to finish.
Finishing up second and third after G-Print’s demise was the ARC Bratislava Ginetta of Mike Simpson, Miro Konopka and Darren Burke securing the Yorkshire-based brand’s first AsLMS podium and the #1 Jackie Chan DC Ligier.
The PRT Racing Ginetta which led the class early in the race meanwhile, finished fifth behind the second ARC Bratislava entry.
Finishing last of the classified runners was the sole GT Cup entry of TKS, which by default took home the winners’ trophy.
Next up on the 2016/17 AsLMS calendar is the series’ trip to Buriram Thailand for Round 3 on the 6-8 of January.