China’s KCMG were crowned the overall champions of 3 Hours of Inje in the first ever Asian Le Mans Series race. With the victory they also with also took the LMP2 title in their #24 Morgan-Nissan, driven by Great Britain's James Winslow, Malaysia's Akash Nandy and Ireland's Gary Thompson.
AF Corse had a very strong race with Australia's Steve Wyatt and Italy's Andrea Bertolini and Michele Rugolo all driving fantastically to place them second overall and take first place in GTC class in their #77 Ferrari 458 GT3.
OAK Racing had a mixed success throughout the afternoon, but some great periods of driving enabled them to to place third overall and second in LMP2 ,with China's Ho-Pin Tung and David Cheng and Taiwan's Jeffrey Lee driving their #24 Morgan-Judd. Picking up valuable experience, as well as their trophies, along the way.
Taisan Ken Endless’ Kamui Kobayashi and Naoki Yokomizo, both from Japan, drove skilfully and tirelessly to complete the 3 hours in their #70 Ferrari 458 GTE to take the GTE title.
As the clock struck three o’clock the race started and the heavens opened. Torrential rain meant that the race started behind the safety car and completed 8 laps before the safety car let the field go. The brand new track has been testing the drivers throughout the practice and qualifying sessions and the wet start added another dimension to the race.
The track dried quickly though and the lead was passed between LMP2, GTE and GTC teams throughout the 3 hours.
One of the major turning points of the race was when 16 year old Akash Nandy got into KCMG’s Morgan-Nissan and went out onto the track, at the same time becoming the youngest ever driver in a Le Mans series race. Due to various technical issues with the car Akash had previously had limited track time, but this did not show at all as he drove both quickly and consistently, exhibiting brilliant focus and maturity. With Brit James Winslow providing a strong start Akash was able to get KCMG ahead and the race was wrapped up by Ireland's Gary Thompson.
Taisan racing’s podium in GTE and second place GTC, with their #26 Porsche 996 GT300, rounded off a successful weekend for the Japanese team. Japan's Kyousuke Mineo drove fantastically in the wet to set a good pace and then his Japanese team-mate Yukinori Taniguchi took over to finish the race. China’s BBT managed to come from the back of the grid to take third place in GTC.
After car issues that meant they were unable to take part in Qualifying yesterday,and had limited track time during warm-up this morning, the team did fantastically to get the car ready for the race. The drivers: China's Anthony Liu along with Italy's Davide Rizzo and Massimiliano Wiser were then all able to put in good stints in their #37 Lambborghini Gallardo GT3 to take third place in their class.
Taiwan's AAI started strongly with Japan's Akira Iida in the #91 McLaren MP4-12C GT3, however they unfortunately had some team issues and a time penalty during Taiwan's Chen Jun San’s stint meant that they didn't podium in this race, however they will be looking ahead to Fuji where they stand a good chance of success. AAI’s #92 McLaren MP4-12C was unable to take part in the race due to irreparable damage sustained during the warm-up.
Hong Kong's Craft Racing were having a promising race and managed to get up to P2 overall before the driveshaft of their #007 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 gave-in in a freak mechanical fault. Japan's Keita Sawa and Germany's Stefan Mucke both went very well and Hong Kong's Frank Yu was readying himself to finish off the race for the team, with P1 in sight. They too will now be looking ahead to Fuji, where they will certainly be strong contenders for the podium.
After incredibly competitive racing throughout the Practices and Qualifying today’s Race did not disappoint, giving this weekend's 3 Hours of Inje a suitably grand finale. All drivers set the standard for Asian Le Mans Series very high, with fantastic support from their teams, and some outstanding performances at this brilliant new Inje Speedium facility. With 3 Hours of Inje only the first stop of the season there is a lot more top-class endurance racing in Asia still to come this year.
Asian Le Mans Series