Post-Race Penalties, #22 United Autosports
The #22 United Autosports Ligier retained second place overall despite a pair of 30 second penalties late in the race after a somewhat spirited exit from a splash and dash from Paul di Resta.
One penalty came for the wheel-spinning pit exit, the other for not cutting the engine before fuelling started, the latter issue a knock-on effect of the car pitting without the pitlane speed limiter engaged, which meant that a system that engages the kill switch when the car comes to a halt did not function.
The team realised that a penalty was likely and opted to have the #22 run down through the pit lane in the final two minutes, an elective drive-through – but to no avail, the #22 though was sufficiently far ahead of the third placed #23 Ligier to retain its on-the-road finishing position.
#37 Excluded After Mori Letdown
Also in trouble was the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier JS P3, despite a very gallant effort from the teams all-Bronze pairing of Neale Muston and Hwang Doyun that saw them bring home the car a fighting sixth in class.
The car though was excluded from the results after Yoshiharu Mori failed to drive, despite being entered to do so, this the result, we are informed, of yet another failure of this driver to deliver the agreed payment to his team within the agreed time, this is, DSC understands, not the first, second, or even third time this has occurred with this driver with a variety of LMP and GT teams in recent seasons.
Jackie Chan DC Racing And Algarve Pro Racing
Jackie Chan DC Racing have established that the lost wheelnut/ wheel that pitched Weiron Tan off the circuit from the lead of the race was caused not by human error but by an as yet unexplained failure – it truly was not the defending Champions’ day. The #1 is set to travel to Fuji for round 2 but the driver crew is far from certain, but most likely a complete switch from the current all-Malaysian line-up.
Reports elsewhere that the team are set to enter a second LMP2 car are understood to be completely incorrect.
Algarve Pro Racing meanwhile were eliminated from Andrea Pizzitola’s early race lead by an engine failure on the #24 Ligier JS P2 Judd, an issue which impressed team co-owner Stewart Cox not one little bit.
The lead in to the weekend had been a none too comfortable one for the team with logistical and administrative difficulties not of the team’s making causing difficulties in deliveries to the circuit of a new Judd V8 – the team opted to run a spare that was not new but well within operating hours, having provided, at Judd’s request, a new engine they had delivered in Europe to allow Panis Barthez Competition to effect the installation on their chassis.
The TianShi Racing effort, expanded to a two-car Audi R8 LMS GT3 effort for the season had a weekend to forget.
After a fire in testing left the engine of the #88 car beyond repair, Max Wiser stopping by a vacant marshals post to find the extinguishers padlocked, the team first attempted to soirce a replacement 5.2 litre V10 before opting to rush one of the Mercedes AMG GT3s that they campaign elsewhere from their Zhuhai base.
The near 1000 mile journey was not without its own dramas, the team truck stopped for some considerable time with paperwork issues, but the car arrived just in time to run in qualifying,
TSRT having decided to run in the GT3-Am sub-category meaning there was no drive for Rob Huff.
The remaining Audi meanwhile had an excellent early run in the hands of David Chen but problems started at a routine pit stop with a small fire at the rear of the car, the air jacks briefly refusing to operate in the wake of the rear of the car being (correctly) covered in extinguishant. Not too much later the car was back into the pits in the hands of Dries Vanthoor, a gearbox issue proving to be terminal for the car. They’ll be back!
R24 – Making Progress
The EuroInternational-operated R24 effort had a tricky start to the meeting with the teams container with all of their pit equipment lost in transit.
The #50 Ligier did arrive though and other teams up and down the paddock donated spares and equipment to allow the all-female crewed car to run.
Whilst this is early days for the programme there was some impressive running – the team opted for a super-conservative run on fuel and before their first stop rose to third overall in the race. Stéphane Kox, daughter of Peter, was particularly impressive in her first LMP3 race with both Sarah Bovy and Marie Iswaoka also contributing to an eventual 8th in class finish.