The Oreca 03R of Jackie Chan DC Racing took the fight to the rest of the grid as they claimed the first victory of the 2016/17 Asian Le Mans Series season at the 4 Hours of Zhuhai.
Starting on pole position, Ho-Pin Tung in the #35 DC car led away at the start and survived not one, not two but four safety car periods as cars decided to explore every gravel trap the Chinese circuit had to offer and meant all the LMP2, LMP3 and GT entries started to diverge in terms of pit strategies as each team thought they knew what would be the best way to take the chequered flag in the lead.
Well in the lead P2 class, it was Algarve Pro Racing who put themselves in the best position as the #24 Judd engined Ligier JSP2 led the #25 Honda powered sister car and the #35 Jackie Chan car which was now in the hands of Gustavo Menezes and was too fast for the competition as he survived a drive-through penalty to beat the #24 by 44 seconds.
After the race, Menezes was overjoyed by victory in what is now a rather venerable Oreca 03R. He said: “It was a fantastic race. Ho Pin had an incredible start, it couldn’t have been better. He took the lead immediately and made a good gap. When he gave me the car under the safety car, the car was incredible; I managed to stretch the gap quite comfortably. After changing the engine cover, we had quite a big gap to fill, so I had to push as much as I could, and the car was incredible. The pace was there and we managed to take the lead back.
“Despite the drive through, the pace was there to keep the lead. With about 15 minutes to go, we had some engine issues, but the team guided me home. They did a fantastic job. Despite some issues, we took the lead. It’s a great start to the championship.”
In LMP3 there was a rather lot more competition for the lead as at points the Tockwith Motorsport Ligier JSP3 of Phil Hanson and Nigel Moore were a decent length ahead of another Karate-backed machine – the Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier of James Winslow, team owner David Cheng and Pu Jun Jin until sometime around the final hour when the Tockwith crew’s pace slipped a bit and they fell behind some of the GT machines and ended in second place.
Third place, after a weekend of adversity having not had half their equipment delivered, was the G-Print by Triple 1 Racing Ligier of Hanss Lin and Julio Acosta which was also their debut weekend in the AsLMS.
Finally GT and it was the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 of Rui Aguas, Marco Cioci and Nasrat Muzayyin that claimed a victory from pole position as they stormed the field, finishing a strong fifth overall as the Clearwater Racing Ferrari of Mok Weng Sun, Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin just couldn’t keep up the pressure on the final lap and finished one second down.
After the race, Aguas said their success started after qualifying when Cioci claimed pole: “I think everything started yesterday with Marco’s pole position. He did a fantastic job. For Nasrat, that was the first time he started on pole position, which made it even more exciting. I’m very happy he did his best lap of the weekend during the race. We were the least favourite, but here we are in first position. It’s a great result. Pole position and a win, so we’re leading the championship. My job was quite easy in the middle, I just had to bring the car in a good position to Marco and not make any mistakes. The traffic was difficult. Apart from that I think it’s been a fantastic weekend. The organisation was great. Everything was fantastic.”
The next race of the AsLMS is on Sunday 4 December when the grid goes to the Fuji International Speedway.