The Race Performance Oreca 03R squad has claimed a well-deserved victory in the Asian Le Mans Series at Sepang.
Starting on the front row, the dynamic duo of Shinji Nakano and Nicolas Leutwiler had a race long battle with the pole sitting Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2 on a track that always looked like it was about to suffer from an infamous Malaysian downpour at any minute.
While it was a tricky start for the Swiss team, having to deal with both the Ligier and the Eurasia Motorsport Oreca 03R, the team quickly found good and consistent pace to put their Judd powered to the head of the pack and the win. The Algarve car, which was fastest for the whole weekend up until the race, finished in second place on its first AsLMS outing with the Eurasia car rounding out the podium.
After the race, Leutwiler said: “It went better than expected. The car was really great in my first stint, so I could attack a bit. I found a really good rhythm. In the second stint, I had to manage the tyres more, which was a bit tricky, but I just had to work through it and bring it safely home.”
In the LMP3 class it was more a race of attrition than stiff competition with the David Cheng-run DC Racing team claiming the class victory – even with a 30 minute spell in the pits to fix a problem with the half-shaft.
They only managed to survive such a long spell in the garage because their nearest rivals, Team AAI in their ADESS 03, also spent a lot of time in the pits with a starter motor problem first discovered when Ollie Hancock came in to hand over to Alex Kapadia.
The final prototype class, for CN regulation cars, saw a slightly closer battle with Avelon Formula claiming the honours at the class’s first outing in the AsLMS. Finishing only 52 seconds ahead of Atlantic Racing Team – both in Wolf GB08s – Avelon Formula finished 12th overall.
Ahead of them was an absolute mass of GT cars with the Clearwater Racing McLaren 650S coming out of the eight car scrap with victory as Mok Weng Sun, Rob Bell and Keita Sawa claimed two wins in two races after their triumph in round one at Fuji.
Finishing just 20 seconds behind them was the Team AAI BMW Z4 GT3 with Dirk Muller, Ollie Millroy and Junsan Chen combining to provide a formidable challenge to the McLaren but it wasn’t to be as they had to settle for second in class and fifth overall.
Rounding out the podium in GT was the second Team AAI car – a Mercedes SLS AMG – with Tatsuya Tanigawa and Lam Yu behind the wheel. The team should be pleased to claim a double podium finish as this second car was only entered because of a technical issue with their second LMP3 car.
Following a second win in a row Rob Bell was full of praise for the Team AAI car which recovered from a pit lane start and charged through the field: “The heat wasn’t too bad actually. It was a good battle with the 91. If you look, as they had a pit infringement in qualifying and had to start last. Without that, I think they would’ve been like for like. If they’d kept their second place, we would have been fighting for three hours. That would’ve been good, but it was good as it was too. Tyre management was important. The car came home beautifully. The team did a great job.”
The next round of the AsLMS will see the series race in Thailand at Buriram in January.