DC Racing have added the LMP3 Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup title to the Asian Le Mans Series championship the team won in January. James Winslow and Neale Muston won the final race of the season, held under sweltering Malaysian sun at the Sepang International Circuit, in doing so, Winslow secured the drivers championship, making it a very succesful season for the Chinese registered team.
Victory for DC Racing was not a given though. It seemed the championship was going the way of title rival PRT Racing, who had held a five point lead in the teams standings coming into the race and after starting from pole position, Charlie Robertson drove the #67 Ginetta LMP3 away from the field creating a huge gap to the chasing pack.
It was difficult for Neale Muston, who had qualified on the front row of the grid and took the start in the DC Racing Ligier JSP3, and Yoshiharu Mori in the WINEURASIA Ligier to keep the Ginetta in sight, such was Robertson’s pace. Both were making their debut in the series and drove well to hold down second and third place respectively until the pit stops.
It was at this point in the race that disaster struck the PRT Racing team. Robertson brought the car into the pits to hand over to Ate de Jong but the Ginetta had been suffering in the high temperatures and began to overheat and as a consequence, shut down. The team was not able to get the car back out onto the circuit for the remainder of the race, effectively ending their title hopes.
The #1 Ligier of DC Racing, now driven by James Winslow emerged in the lead after the pit stops, a position they held until the chequered flag. Victory securing the LMP3 team and driver championships, rounding off an extremely impressive 2016 Asian Endurance season.
After competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship race held in Mexico on Saturday, DC Racing team owner and reigning Asian Le Mans Series LMP3 champion, David Cheng, kindly talked to ‘The Checkered Flag’ about his team’s success in the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup.
“What an incredible effort from the whole team!”
“I’m very happy that we could clinch the title coming into the weekend with a small points gap, James Winslow and Neale Muston delivered a perfect job to our strategy in a nail biter! I also have to thank Dean Koutsoumidis who drove the first two rounds and put us in the prime position. Our technical crew of Eurasia Motorsports really did a spectacular job of prepping the car as well as the support that Onroak Automotives has given us. We really couldn’t have done it without their help”.
“As part of our DC Racing crew was in Mexico for the WEC round, it was impossible for myself to be on-site for this special occasion – to win the inaugural championship, but I was following with intensity on the live timing and was thrilled to see our car cross the line in first to win the race and championship”.
Edgar Lau assumed second place in the #94 WINEURASIA Ligier but was keeping an eye on temperatures and didn’t want to push the car to hard in the stifling heat, decided to settle for second place.
“I just went out and pushed.” Edgar Said. “I found out that it was too hot for the car and that the tyres overheated, so I backed off. Thanks to Eurasia Motorsport for giving me a good car, getting me up to speed with the car, thanks to my sponsors and the Asian Le Mans Series. Hopefully I’ll be back in Zhuhai with the team.”
Team Aylezo, making their debut in the Sprint Cup with a Ginetta LMP3 in the hands of Zen Low and Weiron Tan ran a steady race to third. The team using the final round of the championship as a test session and shakedown of their new car which they intend to campaign in the Asian Le Mans Series.
Zen Low; “Our programme was actually for the main event, the Asian Le Mans Series, not the Sprint Cup. We took the opportunity to participate in the last round so that we could shakedown the car and learn a bit more about the car as well.”
Finishing in fourth place was the CN class Ligier JS53 of PS Racing which was also suffering with the heat and was a little down on power due to this reason but Sebastien Mailleux and Iroi Kimura nursed it home to a comfortable finish.
Only two cars were on the final 2016 GT3 Cup grid, those being the #28 Team Lotus HK Lotus Evora GTC of Anthony Chan and Dominic Ang and the #77 Team NZ Porsche 997 GT3 Cup driven by Graeme Dowsett and John Curran.
John Curran took the lead at start of the race in the Team NZ Porsche and led Anthony Chan by thirty-seconds by the time they came in for driver change pit stops. The positions were reversed soon after when Dominic Ang driving the Lotus passed the Porsche, now driven by John Curran.
Unfortunately, Ang went off the track in his Lotus and Curran was able to repass him for the lead which he held to the finish, winning the GT Cup team and driver title in the process.
Asian Le Mans Series CEO, Cyrille Taesch Wahlen said of the first season of the Sprint Cup Series;
“This first season has been quite successful, because we managed to bring a good number of LMP3 cars to the series, all entered by Asian Teams. I think for next year, there might be 2-3 more at least. For a series that was announced in mid-January this year, and that started in May, it’s a good result and looks promising. It also means that the LMP3 car, as a new product in Asia, is being understood and is becoming more and more attractive. They are very good looking cars. They also like the fact that the Sprint Series is based in Sepang.
We’ll keep the CN class again in the Sprint Cup next year, to give it a chance, and hopefully more will join. I’m sure the field will grow in the GT Cup class.
The plan for next year is to have 4 rounds; the calendar will be announced at the latest at the end of October during the first round of the Asian Le Mans Series at Zhuhai, to give teams time to prepare.”
The result means that both class champions, DC Racing and Team NZ will receive free entry into the 2016-17 Asian Le Mans Series which begins on the 28th October 2016 at Zhuhai, China.