The Algarve Pro Racing team took pole for the final round of the Asian Le Mans Series at Sepang with their last flying lap of qualifying.
Battling all session with the Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 03R of Ho-Pin Tung, the Ligier JSP2 of Andrea Pizzitola was always on the pace but often saw faster laps bettered by Tung. That was until the final lap though as Pizzitola logged a 1:55.279 to beat the Jackie Chan team by the finest of margins – they set a 1:55.287.
Keeping them honest for a time was Struan Moore in the Race Performance Oreca but he didn’t have the late pace to mix it with the lead pair. Fourth place went to the second of the Algarve Pro Racing Ligiers with Michael Munemann setting a lap a couple of seconds down on his LMP2 rivals.
In LMP3 pole position went to the Tockwith Motorsport crew currently second in the points table as Nigel Moore set a 1:59.345 in the team’s Ligier JSP3 to grab first position by more than one-tenth of a second over Scott Andrews in the Wineurasia Ligier.
LMP3 points leaders – the #4 ARC Bratislava Ginetta – could only qualify in eighth place after a session that saw them finish less than a second behind the leader.
After the session, Nigel Moore said: “It’s my first time at the circuit, so we’re still trying to get to grips with the circuit and getting the car adapted the best we can. The start of qualifying was all right. I wasn’t very happy, so came in and made a change. Then went out to do one flying lap, which I didn’t think was going to be enough at all. But it got us the pole that we needed and the extra point. Well done to the team, I’m really happy.”
In the GT class, Alex Riberas kept his cool after an early red flag because of a car stuck in the gravel and claimed pole position by four-hundredths of a second as he put his DH Racing Ferrari 488 ahead of Alessandro Pier Guidi’s Team BBT Ferrari 488 with a 2:02.375 to the latter’s 2:02.379.
Third place, and a bit further behind having set a 2:02.540, was the Team Audi Korea Audi R8 LMS of Alex Yoong who didn’t quite have the pace to match the Ferraris out front.
Riberas commented afterwards: “First of all I want to congratulate the other guys for their good job today. I have a special feeling right now. We came together as a team to Sepang, for me it’s the first time here, so we had to work a little bit to learn the track with our team mate Michele Rugolo who knows the track from the 12 Hour race. We did a lot of work together to try to improve ourselves. We are still battling to win in this championship as a team. To gain the one point advantage for the race is a mental victory for us. Tomorrow we’re still in the hunt for the championship; we’re third and our sister car is first. We will work as hard as we can to do our best, and hopefully we’ll come back as champions.”