Sean Gelael and Antonio Giovinazzi took home their second win in a row in the #9 Jagonya Ayam with Eurasia Oreca 03R Nissan.
The final race of the 2015/2016 season of the Asian Le Mans Series didn’t disappoint. With 20 cars on the entry list and the action taking place under the hot Malaysian sun, Sean Gelael and Antonio Giovinazzi took home their second win in a row in the #9 Jagonya Ayam with Eurasia Oreca 03R Nissan. Second went to the #8 Race Performance Oreca 03R Judd, and 3rd was the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2.
After a great start, jumping from 3rd to 1st in the first lap, Antonio Giovinazzi and Sean Gelael led for almost the entire race in the #9 Jagonya Ayam with Eurasia Oreca 03R Nissan. Despite incurring a 1-minute stop and go penalty due to a pit stop infringement, they still managed to finish the race with over a minute’s lead. In the #8 Race Performance Oreca 03 R Judd, Nicolas Leutwiler and Oliver Webb took home second place after a clean race, which also gave Leutwiler the LMP2 Driver’s title for the season. In third were the pole sitters in the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2, with Michael Munemann, Dean Koutsoumidis and Jamie Winslow behind the wheel.
In LMP3, the crew of the #1 DC Racing Ligier JSP3, Thomas Laurent, David Cheng and Ho-Pin Tung, took home their 4th consecutive win of the season. Having to start from the back of the grid after missing qualifying due to a broken gearbox; they were already up into 10th place by the end of the 1st lap. After 15 minutes, they had rejoined the LMP2s and were 4th overall for a good part of the race, even sitting 3rd overall for a number of laps. The class pole-sitters for this race, the #89 Team AAI ADESS 03, made it to the end of the race but were not classified due to a problem with the starter engine, which cost them a lot of time in the pits.
In CN, the crew of the #21 Avelon Formula Wolf Racing GB08, Denis Lian and Giorgio Maggi, took the class win, finishing 14th overall, a good result for the team after last race’s struggles. This win also gives them the title of CN Champions for this season. The other CN entry, the #69 Atlantic Racing Team Wolf Racing GB08, unfortunately wasn’t able to take the start due to engine issues incurred over the weekend.
The GT class was the biggest it’s been all season, with 10 entries taking part here in Sepang. As usual, the competition was tough, and it was the #5 Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS 2016 that came out on top, with Jeffrey Lee, Alessio Picariello and Christopher Mies at the wheel. They fought hard to beat the #91 Team AAI BMW Z4 GT3, driven by Junsan Chen, Nobuteru Tanaguchi and Ollie Millroy who came second. The #3 Clearwater Racing McLaren 650S GT3 was also gunning for the win and came third across the line, thanks to the work of Mok Weng Sun, Rob Bell and Keita Sawa. Their 3rd place result gives them enough points to secure the GT Team and Drivers titles.
In GTAm, KCMG, despite some competition, held onto their unbroken record and scored their 4th victory of the season. Paul Ip, joined this round by Akash Nandy and Yuan Bo, drove the #51 KCMG Porsche GT3 Cup to class victory in a very clean race for the trio. They had competition in the form of the #77 Team Starspeed Racing Lamborghini Huracan LP620-2 Super Trofeo, that managed to overtake them at the start, although they ended up finishing in 2nd in class, with Sanghwi Rick Yoon and Chong Yau Wong sharing the wheel.
After the race, all the teams were invited to come back to the Sama Sama hotel, next to KLIA, where the Awards Ceremony took place, in the presence of ACO President Pierre Fillon. “This year, the ACO took back the organisation of the Asian Le Mans Series, with Cyrille Taesch Wahlen who did a fantastic job. I think that all the teams worked hard to improve the organisation. All the teams who trusted us up until now have stayed, there was the introduction of the LMP3 class, the grid rose from race to race – there were 13 cars at the start and 20 at the end. It all looks very promising for next season, and we can say that the Asian Le Mans Series is back on track once more.”
The LMP2 Series Trophy for teams went to Race Performance with Nicolas Leutwiler taking the Driver’s title. In LMP3, already decided since Buriram, Ho-Pin Tung and David Cheng took home the Driver’s Title, their 3rd in a row in the Asian Le Mans Series, and their team, DC Racing, took the team’s trophy.
Denis Lian and Giorgio Maggi shared first place in the CN Driver’s title, with their team, Avelon Formula taking the team title. The GT Series Trophy went to Clearwater Racing, and Rob Bell, Keita Sawa and Mok Weng Sun shared the Driver’s Title. KCMG and driver Paul Ip took home the 1st place Team and Driver trophies for GTAm.
There were a few extra awards handed out as well during the ceremony: Rookie of the year went to Thomas Laurent, who really impressed in the #1 DC Racing Ligier JSP3, having come straight from karting. Best team of the year went to Team AAI, who have supported the Asian Le Mans Series for the last few years and entered 4 cars this year. And lastly, Man of the year went to Eurasia’s Mark Goddard, who entered two cars into the series, after already doing a full season’s work back in Europe.
#9 Jagonya Ayam with Eurasia Oreca 03R Nissan
Antonio Giovinazzi: “It was a really good start for me. I overtook the first two guys into the first corner, after then my pace was really good. I was careful with the tyres and everything. After my first pit stop, I got a penalty for something that I’ve forgotten now. Then I handed over to Sean, and we already had a good gap. Sean drove really well. The car was just amazing. Thanks to Eurasia for the car and to Sean Gelael for the support.”
Sean Gelael: “It’s a lot more nervous when you’re starting second I think, because you’re watching the start and everything that’s going on. It was a good stint. Antonio did almost everything during the start. I let him down during qualifying yesterday. But he had to do something or else he wouldn’t really have driven. He did a really good job, pulled a gap. The tyres went off a bit in the end, and we just cruised to the finish line. Thanks to everyone who made a really great car. It made it an easy transition from single-seaters to endurance racing.”
#8 Race Performance Oreca 03 R Judd
Oliver Webb: “I thought I’d got quite a good start until I got to the first corner and saw this yellow thing coming up the inside. It felt like a good start initially. Pace-wise, we started on the old rubber from qualifying and pushed on. We couldn’t really match the guys in front, so the main goal was just to finish. We had a good double stint overall, saved the tyres a bit at the beginning to get some good times in at the end. Other than that, it all went quite well.”
Nicolas Leutwiler: “We came here for the Championship obviously, and the strategy was a controlled race so aggressiveness wasn’t on, and I think we just did it, without and faults, and therefore I have to congratulate the team, everybody, they did a fantastic job all season, and that brought us the championship even though we weren’t the fastest all the time. I would like to thank RDSL who did a really job this weekend. In particular, I would like to say thanks the ACO, Cyrille, and all his team for setting up this Asian Le Mans Series, it really came on well and I think you have a bright future, so thanks from our side.”
#25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP2
Michael Munemann: “My start was slow as usual; our tyres take longer to warm up. I managed more or less not to let the professionals not get too far away from me, it got a bit warm in the car, we were running at 40 or 41° so we were suffering a bit. But more importantly I’d like to follow up on what the others have said, I’ve had more fun here in Asia than I have had in other places racing, it reminds me of old-school racing; the people are friendly and it was enjoyable, so thank you.”
Dean Koutsoumidis: “We had a good race, my stint didn’t have any problems. I would have liked to have got out of the pits a bit quicker, but you learn. The car was fantastic, we did the best we could and avoided trouble, and here we are! So thanks again to the ACO, congratulations to Momo for the Championship, and also thanks to Michael Munemann for the opportunity, for James for training me and getting me up to speed, so thanks everybody.
Jamie Winslow: “It was good, the team did a fantastic job all season, this was a new venture for the three of us and the team, It’s been positive and these two guys have improved massively as drivers, we managed to get pole position, the car was very good, we got the fastest lap of the race, it’s just been a very enjoyable experience, Congratulations to the guys sat to my right for winning the Championship and winning the race, Asian Le Mans has done a great job, we’ve all really enjoyed it, and thank you for Michael and Dean for the opportunity.”
#21 Avelon Formula Wolf Racing GB08
Giorgio Maggi: “The car was pretty good. I was just struggling with the rear a bit at the end, it was sliding a lot. The guys did a good job and a good pit stop. It’s just really hot out.”
“In my stint, the engine started to heat up, so just to be safe, we took it a bit conservative and basically held back the RPM. I drove very conservatively and brought it home across the line, to win the race, as well as the championship, which is what we set out to do in the first place. I’m really happy about it, because the last championship I won was the Asian FOMS 2000 series back in 2002, so it’s been quite a while. It’s been quite a long journey and definitely one to add to the CV.”
#1 DC Racing Ligier JS P3
Thomas Laurent: “It was a lot of fun to get back to the front. It was my first start, so it was cool to start at the back and end up at the front. Thank you to the team and my team mates, family for this.”
David Cheng: “Thomas did a great job on the start and we had a big gap, so it was quite easy. We put on some new tyres. We knew we were going to run the tyres until the end, so I just tried to manage the tyres at the end for Ho-Pin. I wasn’t trying to be greedy and leave him with nothing. Overall it was a good run, nothing too eventful. I think the team did a really good job today, as we were fighting for a 3rd overall by the end. The team’s done a great job all year. We came into this round clenching the championship. We had some gearbox problems towards the beginning of the weekend, which meant that none of us got any practice, so I’m quite happy with myself and my team mates just jumping in the car and having to go.”
On the Championship - David: “With the ticket to Le Mans it’s really fantastic. We’re looking forward to the 24 Hour race. For myself and Ho-Pin, it’s the third time winning this championship. For the hat trick it’s quite special.”
Ho Pin Tung: “It was a very uneventful race for me, just 2nd and 3rd stinting the tyres. Trying to manage them as well as possible as we know that Sepang is quite hard on the tyres. I think the whole weekend was a challenge for the whole team, and we managed very well. In addition to what my teammates said, also want to thank Onroak for sending someone overnight with a part, so that we were able to take the start. Final race of the season, 4th win. Thanks to David, Thomas. Also thanks to Eurasia for helping us all season."
#5 Absolute Racing Audi R8 LMS 2016
Jeffrey Lee: “I took the start. I think it was quite difficult for me, the conditions weren’t too good. I lost a few positions, but thanks to my teammates, they managed to get them back. I had the shortest stint, so it was warm, but not the worst.”
Alessio Picariello: “It was really warm for me, but the car was good in the beginning. I got a few good laps and then the degradation of the tyres was quite quick and it wasn’t easy for me to adapt my driving style, as I don’t have much experience in GTs. Once I found the way to drive, my pace was ok until the end of my stint, and then I managed to come back in front. Chris finished the job in a good way. Thanks to Absolute Racing and Jeffrey for giving me the chance to drive GTs and in Asian Le Mans.”
Christopher Mies: “It was pretty hard. I had pressure from behind by Rob Bell and I was still fighting for the win. I think I took the lead in the 2nd to last lap. Like the other guys said, we don’t have any aircon in our helmet air or drinking system, so it’s pretty hot inside. As soon as I passed the BMW I took some speed out and just cruised to the finish.”
GT #3 Clearwater Racing McLaren 650S GT3
Arj Kulasegaram: “This is a fabulous way to start the 2016 season. This is one title that we’d never won before because we never attempted a full season before, and to win it at our first proper attempt is great. I’m very grateful to the team and the drivers for a superb job done, and the most important thing is that we have won ourselves the chance to have a little fun in the French countryside, which I’m sure we’re all looking forward to on a massive scale. But many thanks to the ACO and in particular to our friend Cyrille Taesch for having done a superb job resurrecting this Championship, which quite frankly was teetering on the brink of oblivion. But the ACO and all of you have done a great job. My huge, huge thanks to Weng for putting this whole project together, to McLaren GT for the support and for the gift of Rob Bell, to Keita Sawa who always seems to come to our rescue when we most need it, and most of all to Clearwater Racing and all my guys at Clearwater. This is our tenth year in action together, and what a way to celebrate it and we’re all overjoyed”
#51 KCMG Porsche GT3 Cup
Paul Ip: “It was relatively trouble-free. Besides the start, I picked up quite a bit of marble, so the car wasn’t really driving straight for the first couple of laps. My manager scraped them off, and then it was a standard race.”
On the Championship - Paul: “It would be nice if GTAm also got a ticket to Le Mans, but unfortunately we don’t. It’s good to be winning again. A big thanks to the team and all the drivers who helped.”
Akash Nandy: “It started off pretty well. I started on new tyres, so degradation wasn’t too bad. It was all about staying consistent and staying ahead of the guy in second. The team did a good job in the pit stops, throughout the whole race, the drivers kept it on track and stayed consistent, so a big job well done to them. I also want to thank KCMG for allowing me to race with them this weekend. It’s nice to be back with them and win again.
Asian Le Mans Series