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4H Shanghai: Pre-Race Notes

DSC checks in with some of the top performers from qualifying

Newey confident after putting Algarve Pro on the front row

Harrison Newey came close to pole yesterday in the #24 Algarve Pro Ligier (featured), with a 1:55.804, three tenths off Pipo Derani in the pole-sitting Spirit of Race Ligier and is therefore hopeful that in the race that the team can compete for the win.

Chatting to DSC after qualifying, Harrison said that the team’s Judd-powered Ligier JS P2, which he hadn’t driven prior to this weekend, is performing well.

“The practice yesterday was good, we made changes overnight, but FP2 was a write-off and we struggled with the car. Luckily we knew what the problem was, and I felt confident that if we could solve those set-up woes then we could do well in Qualifying.

“That was my first qualifying sim on new tyres, I knew I wasn’t able to use two sets, so I put a banker in, then pushed on my second flyer. If I hadn’t hit traffic I could have been P1. But with a lack of experience here I’m happy with that.

“Long run pace will be good, the tyre is quite hard so it should be ok in a stint.”

TSRT’s efforts pay off

TSRT’s efforts to ensure it will race with two cars in the Asian Le Mans season opener have been remarkable.

The team, after its #66 Audi R8 LMS suffered a terminal fire in the pre-event test, was unable to source a replacement engine for the rest of the weekend. Instead it’s had to change car, and send one of its Blancpain GT Series Asia Mercedes AMG GT3s on a 1000-mile road trip from its Zhuhai base to get here in time for the race.

The car arrived trackside before qualifying, the team sending it through scrutineering before sending it out in qualifying.

During the session, both Max Wiser and Wu Wei set times, the ACO allowing both drivers to get a feel for the car before the race. It’ll be interesting to see how the car fares in the race.

Vanthoor surprised by qualifying pace

Dries Vanthoor told DSC that he was surprised by the pace he was able to find in Qualifying driving the #88 Audi R8 LMS, setting a 2:02.603 to take pole.

“It was unexpected because we were struggling in FP1 and FP2 finding the right balance in the car to be able to get lap times like the Ferraris. But we made the right changes, we’d always run with a lot of fuel in earlier too, so we knew we had something in the bag for the session.

“I think we hit everything right, made the right change, hit the peak of the tyre perfectly, and did a lap I cannot do again!”

Kuba Schmiechowski eager to make it two wins in a row for Inter Europol

Kuba Schmiechowski is really enjoying his racing at the moment, the Polish driver winning for the first time in the ELMS last time out at Portimao, before scoring pole position yesterday in Shanghai.

In speaking to DSC, he said the Inter Europol team’s hard work over the past few months have made a huge difference in its results.

“To be honest I was susprised, when I saw the lap and it was a 1:59 I thought it was a mistake because we haven’t been that fast all weekend, and it didn’t even feel that fast! I guess I just put everything together and it worked out fine,” he said.

“The reason we’re seeing success is because everyone in the team knows what they’re doing, they all know each other, and we have a good crew at all the races. Everyone communicates without yelling, the whole team clicks with each other.”

Asian Le Mans veterans impress in qualifying

The top four drivers in LMP2 qualifying have all been race or class winners in the Asian Le Mans Series in the past two seasons, Pipo Derani, Harrison Newey, Phil Hanson and Jazeman Jaafar. Second fastest Harrison Newey and third fastest Phil Hanson notably have won the LMP2 and LMP3 titles in the past two years.

Kox’s Asian Le Mans debut

The debut of the #50 R24 Ligier will see a rare but not unique completion of a father-daughter double, starting in ACO rules racing, with daughter of Peter Kox, Stephane, one of the three women driving the car this season.

The most recent previous member of that club, was Christina Nielsen, joining father Lars-Erik, both of whom have driven at Le Mans and appeared in ELMS/LMS competition. Neither should we forget Jacky and Vanina Ickx.

Juggling act

Hugo De Sadeleer has an unusual warm up routine, as the DSC editor discovered before he went live with Asian Le Mans TV, the Swiss driver who will race tomorrow in the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier, relaxes pre-session by juggling.

CTCC support

The Chinese Touring Car Championship shares the bill with the Asian Le Mans Series opener here in Shanghai. Our race finished today under caution that had look set to see two men with GT racing links fighting for the lead to the finish.

Rob Huff took the win in his factory VW, he’ll join the #66 TSRT AMG effort tomorrow, whilst Adam Morgab, best known perhaps as a front-runner in the BTCC, finished second today in his factory BAIC Sonova, Adam’s family own the Ciceley Motorsport concern that is campaigning AMG GT4s, and made its British GT debut in the seaosn finale this year.

Tour of the circuit with Phil Hanson

The Asian Le Mans Series’ has posted an onboard lap of Shanghai from United Autosports’ Phil Hanson on its YouTube channel. Watch it below

Asian Le Mans pays tribute to Weng Sun Mok

The Asian Le Mans YouTube feed also posted a video this weekend as a tribute to former Asian Le Mans Series GT champion Weng Sun Mok, who retired from top-line racing last weekend after the WEC race.

How to follow

Today’s four-hour race starts at 9:30am local time. Timing and the official stream (with commentary from DSC’s editor Graham Goodwin) can be used to follow the race over on

However, the weather this morning is poor, with thick fog making for very low visibility trackside. We’ll keep you updated on DSC if the weather disrupts the race.