The FRD LMP3 Series had its second round in Shanghai last weekend. The grid was about the same size as the one for the inagural round at Zhejiang, with a total of 10 Ligier JSP3s. Only Jackie Chan DC Racing Team were not present.
There were a few changes to the driver line-ups though, ex-Audi LMP1 driver Marco Bonanomi took over from Alex Tagliani at the wheel of #33 S&D Ligier JSP3. Natan Bihel, the Yvan Muller Racing driver in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, replaced Leo Ye. Kevin Tse from Hong Kong swapped with Dennis Lian in the #25 S&D Ligier JSP3.
Qualifying sessions took place on a damp track. Jami Winslow and Mathias Beche in the #95 Craft Bamboo Ligier took Pole Position for both races.
Race 1: Craft Bamboo Dominates
The #25 S&D Ligier JSP3 and the #17 PTRS Ligier JSP3 took the start of the race from the pits. All the other cars made a clean start with Jamie Winslow in the #95 Craft Bamboo Ligier JSP3 keeping the lead and pulling away easily from the #7 PTRS Ligier JSP3 driven by Rainey He.
A few laps into the race, Natan Bihel in the #33 spun out at the exit of Turn 16 and hit a tyre wall. The car returned to the pits with some damage to its rear bodywork. After repairs, it returned to the race several laps behind the leader.
Meanwhile, there was a heated battle for third position between the #3 Eurasia Ligier JSP3 driven by Garnet Patterson and Andy Yan in the #1 Eurasia Ligier . The #3 was clearly having trouble at the braking points and was eventually overtaken by the #1 on lap 5.
Cars pitted half an hour into the race for driver changes. The #95 had a longer stop than the #7 and the #1 because of the series’ driver BOP rules. After that sequence, Olivier Lombard in the #1 led the race ahead of the #95 driven by Mathias Beche and Simon Evans at the wheel of the #7 PTRS machine. Beche was able to attack and overtake Lombard at Turn 14 some 10 minutes before the end of the race. “It was not easy,” said Beche. “They had a car which was better than ours on the exit of the corners. I knew I could catch him. I was just waiting for him to do a mistake. I managed to get him, but it was tight”.
Lombard in the #1 finished second ahead of Evans in the #7.
Race 2: PTRS Racing Takes Its First Victory in the FRD LMP3 Series
A reasonable crowd attended the Sunday race. All cars made a clean start with Beche heading Yann Clairay in the #17 PTRS Ligier and Martin Cao in the #3 Eurasia Ligier JSP3.
From lap 6 onwards, Clairay attacked Beche relentlessly but without ever managing to overtake him. There was also a battle for third position between Cao, Dan Wells in the #91 Eurasia Ligier JSP3, Marco Bonanomi in the #20 Craft Bamboo Ligier JSP3 and Josh Burdon in the #18 KCMG Ligier JSP3. Burton was probably the most impressive driver of the race. He was ninth on lap 1, fifth after overtaking Bonanomi on lap 8, fourth after overtaking Wells a lap later, ultimately reaching third position after overtaking Cao just before mid-race and the obligatory driver change.
Driver BOP made Beche to stop in the pits for a longer duration than most of his direct competitors. This allowed the #18 KCMG Ligier to take the lead of the race on lap 17, ahead of the #17, the #20 and the #95. The #17 driven by Andrew Waite eventually overtook the #18 one lap later and kept first position all the way to the checkered flag.
The #18 took final podium position on lap 23 as Winslow in the #95 climbed back up the order and took second place despite braking problems.
Next up for the FRD LMP3 Series runners is a second race in Shanghai on August 27, 2017