Jackie Chan DC Racing claimed top honours in Thailand as they fought off strong competition from Algarve Pro Racing to win the Asian Le Mans Series’ Four Hours of Buriram.
At the start they set off from pole with a comfortable lead – Ho-Pin Tung mastering the conditions in the Oreca 03R as their fellow LMP2 competitors squabbled behind them.
The team would have a decent lead until the safety car was called for to recover an errant CN car that found itself in somewhat of a predicament. However, that was but a temporary setback for the DC car – which also featured Gustavo Menezes and Thomas Laurent – which would complete the remainder of the race undisturbed to win by more than 80 seconds.
Joining the Oreca on the podium in the four car LMP2 class were the two Algarve Pro Racing Ligiers. Second was the Nissan-engined entry of Matt McMurry, Andrea Roda and Andrea Pizzitola who finished three minutes ahead of the Judd-engined car of Michael Munemann, Tacksung Kim and Mark Patterson.
Fouth place was the last of the P2 cars, the Race Performance Oreca 03R which finished 26 seconds off the podium after hitting some technical problems late on in the race.
After the race, Tung said: “It was a very clean start. Great to get the whole field going at once. I had a really good run in the beginning and pulled a good gap in the first 6 laps until the safety car came, which was a shame because that brought the gap to zero. But the car was very good, in free practice and qualifying and today in the race as well. We had to change the strategy for the driver time for Thomas and Gustavo, but it all worked out very well. They both did a fantastic and very mature job, and it’s great to be standing here with the championship lead.”
In the LMP3 class, ARC Bratislava claimed a one-two in their Ginetta G57s with Miro Konopka, Darren Burke and Ginetta factory racer Mike Simpson fighting off Neale Muston and Konstantins Calko by less than two-tenths of a second. That result was Ginetta’s first win of the season in the Asian Le Mans Series.
Third place went to the G-Print by Triple 1 Racing Ligier JSP3 of Hanss Lin, Shaun Thong Wei Fung and Ryuichirou Ohtsuka who found themselves trapped behind the FIST-Team AAI BMW M6 GT3 for the last portion of the race.
Elsewhere in the pint-sized prototype class, the pole-sitting Ligier of Tockwith Motorsport and their drivers Phil Hanson and Nigel Moore had a race to forget as engine problems conspired to hamper their pace in the race and saw them finish well down the order. The pair will be hoping to carry on their good form at Sepang in a few weeks.
Simpson said: “It was a pretty easy race. Darren and Miro did a good job. We had a good gap to the Ligier in third, and our sister car was in second. Probably the easiest 55 minutes of racing I’ve ever had. What’s also nice is that we’re a true pairing of Gold-Bronze-Bronze. So it’s nice to beat some of these kids which are graded differently. Well done to the team. They worked very long hours, and the car was very strong, and we had practically a photo finish with the cars in 1st and 2nd. Looking forward to the next race and maybe the championship.”
Finally in the GT class, the DH Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Rino Mastronardi, Alex Riberas and Olivier Beretta inherited victory from the sister car of Stephane Lemeret, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Michele Rugalo after the latter was penalised for unnecessarily slow speed in the pit lane. That penalty relegated the former race winners to third after the Ferrari of Team BBT managed to put themselves in the right position to be given second place.
Doing well in the GT class was Team AAI who finished fourth and fifth in their BMW M6 GT3s to keep former champions Clearwater Racing down in sixth place.
After the celebrations, and the post-race penalties, Lemeret said: “The start of the race was good because I started in 7th, but I took some positions. I was happy to see that the car was more competitive than it was in qualifying. I didn’t have the opportunity to follow Alex Riberas really fast. This was the opportunity to stay behind, as car #3 was stronger than #5, and we’re in the same team, but we needed the points for the championship. All in all, the team did what was important for this new sponsor, new team in motorsport. It’s an incredible achievement for their first season in motorsport. They are doing a lot to help us and support us. It’s really great to give them this title even before the end of the season.”