Sun 22nd Jan 2017 – The # 25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Nissan has won the 4 Hours of Sepang, taking their first victory of the season and claiming the championship title. They finished ahead of the #8 Race Performance Oreca 03R Judd and their sister car, the #24 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Judd. In LMP3, the #26 Tockwith Motorsports Ligier JSP3 managed to claim the class victory in the last few laps, ensuring their class title as well. The #31 Team Audi Korea Audi R8 LMS GT3 scored their first win of the season in the GT class, and the #96 TKS Porsche 911 GT3 Cup made their return to the series and won the GT Cup class.
On the hottest day of the race weekend so far, the 25 cars took to the track for the final race of the 2016-2017 Asian Le Mans Series, the 4 Hours of Sepang. It wasn’t the cleanest race start of the season,after an incident at turn 1 on the first lap saw the #35 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 03R Nissan get a puncture which brought the safety car out as it had to make its way slowly back to the pits, damaging the bodywork as it went along. They rejoined a couple of times, before retiring at the end of the first hour with engine trouble. This left the championship fight open to both Algarve Pro Racing crews.
By the second hour, the race had settled and the near continuous shuffle in the top three spots began, with the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Nissan, driven by Aidan Read, Andrea Roda and Andrea Pizzitola coming out victorious and crossing the line first. The fight for second place was quite strong, with the crew of the #8 Race Performance Oreca 03R Judd, Giorgio Maggi, Struan Moore and Fabien Schiller taking the second step on the podium, after a slow pit stop cost the crew of the #24 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Judd precious seconds and relegated them to third, but Tacksung Kim, Michael Munemann and Mark Patterson seemed pleased with their result.
The LMP3 class saw a strong battle between the Ligier JSP3 cars, who performed very well throughout the race. After the incident on lap one, Nigel Moore in the #26 Tockwith Motorsports Ligier JSP3 managed to avoid the LMP2 cars that were caught up and ended up leading the race overall for several laps. With Phil Hanson sharing the stints, they managed to claim the LMP3 class win and LMP3 Championship title. They didn’t have it easy though, and had to fight off strong competition from the #85 G-Print by Triple 1 Racing Ligier JSP3, shared by Hanss Lin and Shaun Thong Wei Fung, who finished second. We also saw a strong performance from the #1 Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier JSP3, with James Winslow, David Cheng and Hiroki Yoshida sharing the drive to come third in class.
It hasn’t been an easy weekend for the Ginetta LMP3 cars, who had showed their strength at Sepang during the Sprint Cup last year. The highest placed was the #69 Aylezo Ecotint Racing Ginetta LMP3, with Zen Low, Weiron Tan and Riki Christodoulou, who finished 4th in class, 14th overall, ahead of the #99 Wineurasia Ligier JSP3 with Scott Andrews, William Lok and Devon Modell finishing 5th in class.
Leading the LMP3 class as the weekend began, the #4 ARC Bratislava Ginetta had some issues with their car due to a collision which cost them time in the pits, and made them finish 6th in class. The sister car, the #7 ARC Bratislava Ginetta LMP3 was 7th in class. The PRT Racing Ginetta LMP3 also struggled after a collision and finished in the pits after losing a wheel.
The sole ADESS racing with us this weekend, the #93 FIST-Team AAI ADESS 03 had an unfortunate end after a bumpy weekend, retiring in the pit box in the first hour with a broken transmission.
In the GT Class, the #31 Team Audi Korea Audi R8 LMS GT3 dominated the class for most of the race, with the trio of Kyong Ouk You, Marchy Lee and Alex Yoong delivering the team’s best performance of the season. Closing in was the pole-sitting #3 DH Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Rino Mastronardi, Alex Riberas and Olivier Beretta who took home second place, and the #37 Team BBT Ferrari 488 GT3 with Anthony Liu, Davide Rizzo and Alessandro Pier Guidi came third. The #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 managed a good climb up the field and finished fourth, with Mok Weng Sun, Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin sharing the drive. #5 DH Racing Ferrari 488 GT3’s 5th place secured their title and they will leave Sepang as GT Class champions and have a seat to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The GT Cup class saw the most action it’s had all season, with both entries equally matched and fighting for the win. Having done one round each, they started the weekend on equal points. The #77 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup went off into the gravel in the first hour, losing a bit of time, and letting the #96 create a decent gap. They never managed to catch them back up afterwards and the race and GT Cup title win went to the #96 TKS Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, shared between Shinyo Sano, Takuma Aoki and Shigeto Nagashima. The Team NZ crew came away with 2nd place on the podium for Graeme Dowsett, John Curran and Will Bamber.
After this busy final race of the season, we would like to congratulate our title champions, especially the three teams who now have invitations to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, Algarve Pro Racing, Tockwith Motorsports and DH Racing.
We hope to see you in the summer for the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup, and then in October for the next season of the Asian Le Mans Series, starting in China.
Overall winner – #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Nissan
Andrea Roda: “It was a strange start, with a lot of crashes and so we basically started from last position, and we had to deal with the traffic with the GT and LMP3, but I tried to avoid any issues and crashes. I tried to push as much as I could for 2 stints. We had very good pace. The car was awesome. When I left the car I was wrecked from the heat. I was really happy to have pushed as hard as I did and to take the title as driver and for the team. We deserve it and worked hard for it. We’re so proud of this and we have to congratulate DC Racing and Race Performance for the challenge because it was really hard to achieve this.”
Aidan Read: “It was a great stint for me and I was very happy. It was a massive challenge coming here for my first time in an LMP2. I had a great time out in the car. The speed was good. As we saw, the start was interesting and mixed up the race completely. From there it was about running consistently. We were in a good position and it was about executing our best race. I think we’re done that today. We had some real great pace on track, we were consistent and out of trouble. It was great to come here and contribute to a championship with the Algarve team. These two Andreas make great team mates, they’ve been fantastic. Fast but also very relaxed, in and out of the car. It’s been an amazing weekend. I can’t explain how I’m feeling.”
Andrea Pizzitola: “It was an easy job after the performance of these two guys. As they said, they managed to avoid all the problems and go through the traffic and they did really well. I just managed to bring the car home. It was a long race for me. You just know you don’t have to crash, you know you have to finish the race, so it’s a double challenge. That was pretty hard, but I’m happy for the guys and the team. As Andrea said, congratulations to DC Racing and Race Performance because it’s been a great season with them.”
2nd place – #8 Race Performance Oreca 03R Judd
Giorgio Maggi: “It was a bit of a mess at the start. I got a good launch, I was on the inside line and I locked the wheels a bit, I tried to avoid going over the inside kerb, but that’s racing. These things happen and I’m sorry about it. The rest of the race was quite difficult because the front aero balance was quite messed up, and also our engine water temperature was quite high. I couldn’t really push with the car.”
Fabien Schiller: “I was second in the car and did a double stint. I had every kind of problem you could have. Everything started with a tyre problem at front left, because we lost some of the flaps at the front from the collision at the start. So we didn’t have enough front aero balance. So I had a lot of understeer in quick corners, and then I messed up my front tyres. We started to get some problems with the gearbox too, the clutch…I had quite a few challenges with the car, but everyone did a good job to get it solved. We still managed a good stint to get second place with a good overtake. I’m really happy with it. It’s been a great season for me this winter. I think we all learnt a lot over here and it’s been really enjoyable.”
Struan Moore: “First of all, congratulations to these guys. It’s a shame not to have DC Racing up here, but that’s how it is. Without the brake failure in round 1, and in round 3 we had multiple failures. But we can’t take anything away from the competition, they’ve done a really solid job. I think we’ve finished last in the championship, which is a shame considering the pace. Congratulations to everyone and I’ve really enjoyed working with Fabien and Giorgio so hopefully they’re back next year.”
3rd place – #24 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 Judd
Michael Munemann: “I want to thank the organisers. As you know, I love the Asian championship, it’s a lot of fun. I’m a bit disappointed not to finish second. We had a miserable pit stop where we lost 8 seconds. Mark has left me in awe, and I’m looking forward to my retirement if I can retire like him. It’s been a lot of fun. We had terrible luck the first two rounds, I don’t want to win the championship this way as a team, but god has a strange sense of humour.”
Tacksung Kim: “I had trouble with the brake pads at the beginning, which took me some while to get used to. But my team mates did a good job, especially Mark, he’s the quickest of all.”
Mark Patterson: “I’m still a bit tired. I’d like to thank the organisers for a great race. It’s nice to compete with good friends, three drivers from 8 different countries. I only got to drive the first, fifth, sixth and seventh stint. It was a lot of fun. Thanks to my partners here. Thanks to Algarve Racing, these guys did a marvellous job. Nothing broke, we had a race breakdown and we came third instead of second. Great fun. Thank you again.”
LMP3 class winners – #26 Tockwith Motorsports Ligier JSP3
Nigel Moore: “It was great. We had a pretty good start and ended up leading the race overall for quite a few laps. There was an incident on the first corner in the first lap and avoided it as best we could. The team did an absolutely fantastic job. The car’s been absolutely amazing all weekend, all season. For Phil, going into his second year now and winning his first Le Mans Series Championship like this is pretty good, so a big thank you to him, my parents, his parents, and everyone involved with Tockwith Motorsports. It’s been really good.”
Phil Hanson: “I double stinted in the middle, so I did the 2nd and 3rd hour of the race. Physically it wasn’t too bad. I was double stinting the last few rounds. Like Nigel said, brilliant result, really happy winning a championship. That last stint was quite exciting as well. A big thank you to everyone at Tockwith Motorsport, all the mechanics. Also to Ligier. It’s been a quick car throughout the year, and especially at the last round, you can see the support you get from Ligier.”
GT class winners – #31 Team Audi Korea Audi R8 LMS GT3
Alex Yoong: “It was a good race. I’m very happy. We were leading although we weren’t quite as quick as the Ferraris. We always knew that the car was very good, very kind on the tyres. Operationally it’s been perfect. The drivers did a great job. I think they made the right decisions at the right time. Very happy with our first win.”
Kyong Ouk You: “The car was perfect, the setup was perfect, teamwork with the drivers was perfect. I’m so very happy.”
Marchy Lee: “It was really tough. I think the weather was really tough on everybody. First of all we’re very happy to come to the Asian Le Mans, I think the organising ACO did a great job. A lot of people told us we ended up in the wrong championship and I think we proved them wrong. I think Asian Le Mans is a very good championship and good for everybody to win. I’m very happy. We have to thank Audi Korea support, Audi Cup, Audi Hong Kong. Very happy today.”
GT Cup class winners – #96 TKS Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
Takuma Aoki: “It was amazing to be back. We’re newcomers this year, this team. The race was amazing. It was very hard for me, it was very hot, the conditions weren’t so good for me, so my stint was hard to control. But my team gave me good advice to coach me through it. I want to thank my team and my team mates.”
Shinyo Sano: “I’m very, very happy. Like Aoki said, we’re a new team, new to the series. We completed our missing in Fuji, which was to finish a race, so we reached our target. To win this and get the points and the championship is a great extra. Now we’re champions, we might look to move up the ranks, maybe to GT or LMP and might come back to Asian Le Mans.”
Shigeto Nagashima: “We were concerned about the other GT Cup team as they were very fast in Free Practice. But our mechanics and teams started to prepare a perfectly set-up car. Thanks to the staff and everybody. I really enjoyed working with the other two drivers.”