Asian Le Mans SeriesSportscars

Aston Martin Racing Suffer Mixed Fortunes at Okayama

3 Mins read

The works Aston Martin LMP1 squad both enjoyed and endured the Asian Le Mans Series, with the team's lone entry seeing feast and frustration in the championship-in-a-weekend series.

The car, once more in the familiar Gulf colours and in the hands of Harold Primat and Stefan Mucke qualified fourth for the first race. The team quickly made up a place, with Mucke at the wheel, before battling for the lead with the Pescarolo and ORECA entries, eventually emerging victorious in time to hand over the car in the lead to Primat in the lead for the second hour of the race.

The Swiss maintained the lead for much of the middle portion of the race and after handing driving duties back to Mucke (and the winding out of the final round of scheduled pitstops) the team were heading for the chequered flag with only ten minutes remaining.

However, then came the news that the car would have to pit to repair cracked louvers on the front wings, with rules stating that a car has too finish the race with bodywork, a situation eerily similar to that which affected the Speedy Sebah team at the Le Mans Series finale at Silverstone in September.

With the offending bodywork taped up the car was back on the track, but down in third.

Things soon got worse.

The team were further informed that their tape repairs did not satisfy the rules, saying that the repair had to be mechanical. Mucke was called back into the pits, with the entire nose section of the Lola chassis replaced before the car returned to race, having lost another position, dropping to fourth, where is would finish.

But the results weren't decided yet.

AMR believed that the team who finished third (the Kolles Audi of Oliver Jarvis and Christian Bakkerud) had similar louver damage, but had not been ordered to pit for repairs, or at the very least had not followed that order, as so questioned the validity of the result, claiming that had the Audi pitted Mucke would have remained third despite the extra stop.

The appeal was thrown out, prompting a rather annoyed sounding press release from AMR principal George Howard-Chappell ““It's a disappointing result as we led for the majority of the first race but the rules state that the car must finish with all bodywork intact so, as advised by the stewards and to comply, we stopped for repairs,” he said. “The fact that this rule was not applied across the board is frustrating. The positives are that the drivers both performed extremely well as did the team but their efforts are not truly reflected in the result. Let's hope this helps to highlight the issue and the rules are clarified for next year.”

However, any obvious sign of that anger was gone in time for the start of the second, and was probably all but forgotten by the end.

With Mucke again starting from fourth he quickly made up places, taking third almost immediately and fighting his way to the lead after only 15 laps, and pulled away at the head of the field, with a 20 second lead after the first hour when he brought the car in to hand over to Primat.

While Primat rejoined the race in fifth he quickly moved back into the lead as those ahead came in for their own pitstops before continuing the stellar performance by the Aston Martin crew adding another 20 seconds to the lead before the team's second stop.

Mucke maintained the 40 second lead during the final hour, despite needing a splash-and-dash fuel stop with only eight minutes of the race remaining, with Aston Martin Racing adding another race victory to their 2009 tally.

“I'm so happy!” exclaimed Primat after the race. “This is my first win in sports cars and I am very pleased that it was with Aston Martin Racing. Stefan gave me the car in P1 and I had a consistent stint with no problems at all. I don't think anyone was expecting us to be the fastest car on the track today, we surprised everyone including ourselves.”

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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