The newly signed all Malaysian #7 Jackie Chan DC Racing x Jota crew of Jazeman Jaafar, Weiron Tan and Afiq Ikhwan Yazid claimed an overall victory in the 6 Hours of Buriram, the first 6 hour race in the short history of the Asian Le Mans Series which started in front of an impressively large crown on Thailand’s National Childrens Day, the circuit complex playing host to a huge crowd throughout the day with large numbers of people still arriving until late in the day.
The win came after a race long chase by the #7 crew taking the fight to the Championship leading sister #8 crew of Thomas Laurent, Harrison Newey and Stephane Richelmi from the start and then having to fight back when Jaafar collected a pit exit marker cone after his first stop that lodged in a cooling duct and cost the crew 30 seconds when the brake and engine temperatures spiked.
Thereafter the effort was faultless with all three drivers consistently quick, their effort though was helped by the sister car suffering a problematic downshift issue that lost time for both Newey and Laurent, the Englishman suffering double bad luck as the problem bit, the car failing to shift down as he attempted to go by the AAI BMW at the end of a lap, a spin or a run into the pit lane the only available options, Newey chose the latter but crossed the blend line as a result, cue a subsequent drive through penalty as a result – two superfluous runs through the lengthy Buriram pitlane would assist their pursuers considerably, and both men would deal admirably with the issue, though at times would lose significant time for several laps at a time.
The #8 would resist the charge of the #7 until the 5th hour but thereafter had no answer to the healthy sister car’s charge to the finish.
That almost brought the #37 Team BBT Ligier JSP2 onto terms with the ailing #8, the team will be left to rue a couple of penalties added to early race pitstops, on e for a jump start by Anthony Xu Liu, the other for a loose wheelnut escaping the attentions of the crew at the first regular pit stop. Davide Rizzo followed on putting Pipo Derani aboard for the final run to the flag and the little Brazilian did not disappoint, a concerted charge sustained by the increasing clear evidence that a finish for the #8 was far from a foregone conclusion.
When he climbed aboard Derani had over two and a half minutes in arrears to the #8 for second place, by the flag, as darkness fell and the Buriram floodlights took over, the gap had tumbled to under 22 seconds!
The #4 ARC Bratislava crew had a solid if unremarkable run to fourth, Gustavo Yacaman enjoying his Asian LMS debut it seems and getting quicker as he dialled himself into the car and the Buriram track.
The #25 Algarve Pro Gentlemans Cup entered Ligier would run well too, all three drivers pulling out decent times before Ate Dirk de Jong made a mistake that several others have here in the past at Turn 7, the #25 hitting the armco and posting the only retirement of the race, de Jong unhurt after a substantial shunt.
KCMG’s recovery plan progressed nicely with the win in LMP3 class for the #18 Ligier JS P3 of Josh Burdon, Louis Prette and Neric Wei, eventually by a substantial margin as the challenge of the #11 Taiwan Beer GH Motorsport Ligier faded in the final hour, the Hanss Linn, Ye Hong Li and Scott Andrews effort a convincing one here though a pair of spin and stalls cost the team dear. Ye Hong Li, on his LMP3 debut was particularly impressive.
In fact all of the five car field ran as high as second at some point, and all bar the #1 WIN Motorsport car, which was suffering from power steering issues for the second half of the race, led the class at some point, the #1 would eventually complete the podium.
Nigel Moore put the Viper Niza car on point until mechanical issues intervened, the team struggling to the finish after several delays, and the #6 Jackie Chan DC Racing running at the front in the hands of Guy Cosmo and Patrick Byrne, losing the lead in the fourth hour after a black and orange flag to replace the left hand mirror and then and thereafter losing more time with a power steering issue just after Gabriel Aubry had taken over.
An eventual fourth place class finish would leave the Championship points finely poised, #18 retaking the Championship lead, but only by a single point from the #6.
Al three runners would lead the GT class, the #90 FIST Team AAI Ferrari though would suffer delay after Ollie Millroy was hit from behind by an unsighted Guy Cosmo in traffic, the impact damaging the rear right of the car and causing a puncture just after the pit entry, the Ferrari would not recover that ground, (DSC later learning that the car had suffered SIX front punctures during the race!) and would complete the race with only two drivers, Lam Yu unwell on race morning and unable to drive.
The #66 Tianshi Racing Team Audi led, and led well for much of the race, Max Wiser getting by Millroy in the early running, the pair getting away from Junsan Chen in the BMW, thereafter the Audi drew away, and aided by the Ferrari’s woes the chase came down to initially Chaz Mostert, then later Jesse Krohn, the Aussie star carving away at a gap of two and a half minutes to great effect over his double stint, Alex Au struggling a little with the GT discipline in the Audi but the two cars putting on a show for a goodly chunk of the six hours, the BMW eventually powering home to the win.
The Team NZ Porsche meanwhile posted a solo GT Cup class finish on their return to the Series.