Jackie Chan DC Racing x Jota Sport have locked out the front row of the grid for the first round of the 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series.
Running at the Zhuhai International Circuit, it will be the #8 Oreca 05 Nissan that will start from Pole Position, alongside the team’s sister car, the #7 Oreca 05 Nissan.
Qualifying for the Asian Le Mans Series is broken into two sessions, one for the LMP2 and LMP3 classes combined, and another for the GT class. With each session running for just 15 minutes, the teams and drivers do not have much room for error.
Each team must nominate one driver to represent their team during the qualifying session.
LMP2 and LMP3
It was Pipo Derani in the BBT Ligier JS P2 that was the first of the runners to set a quick time, but it was the Aussie driver Josh Burdon that was making an impact. Putting in a blistering lap in the KCMG Ligier JSP3 he was sitting in 2nd place outright early in the session.
After showing promising pace in practice, trouble hit ARC Bratislava during qualifying. Their driver Konstantins Calko went off the track on cold tyres, damaging the body work of their Ligier JS P2.
The times kept dropping as the session went on, with Frenchman Thomas Laurent in the #8 Oreca grabbing pole for Jackie Chan DC Racing X Jota Sport. With a quick time of 1:27.615, he was just 0.15 ahead of his Chinese team mate Ho-Pin Tung in the #7. Making it a very tight top three, Brazilian Pipo Derani set a time of 1:27.979, just 2 tenths behind Ho-Pin Tung.
Even with damage to their car, ARC Bratislava set a time quick enough for 4th place on the grid.
Meanwhile, in LMP3 it was the #18 Ligier JS P3 of KCMG that remained quickest at the end of the session. The team will not have things all their own way in the race though with the Hong Kong based team, WIN Motorsport starting 2nd in the LMP3 class. The team that recently claimed the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup title, will no doubt take the fight to KCMG in the race.
Third in the LMP3 Class went to the 3rd Jackie Chan DC Racing x Jota Sport Liger JS P3.
Quotes from Thomas Laurent, Jackie Chan DC Racing x Jota Sport:
“It has been an amazing few months and for the moment I am enjoying it, but we will need to see in the race tomorrow if we are still first – but of course that is our goal!”
“Half way through our session we came in and made an adjustment to our tyre pressures – it is the only thing we are allowed to change during qualifying – and it made the difference.
“As a team we are really proud to have both cars on the front row of the grid for tomorrow, and we will see what happens in the race, but it is a nice start for Jackie Chan DC Racing!
“Tomorrow will be the first time I will start, so for me it will be something new!”
Josh Burdon, KCMG: “I thought the quick time was in the car after practice this morning. We did a green tyre run early, and after just one lap I had a good feeling in the car, so I knew that we were on target for a good qualifying time.
“We have been working really had on the car – it is the first time this team’s driven on Michelin tyres, so it has been a bit of a learning curve yesterday and today. It was a great job by my team mates as well, we were able to collect a lot of data and put it all together over one lap.
“I am really happy to be here, and to be honest I really enjoy this sort of racing. It is a real team effort and we are having a lot of fun!”
In GT it was also a tightly fought battle, especially between the two FIST-Team AAI cars.
Ultimately it was to be Rafaelle Marciello in the Mercedes-AMG GT3, that just pipped his team mate Jesse Krohn in the BMW M6 GT3.
After becoming the first amateur driver to win the Audi R8 LMS Cup just two weeks ago, Chinese driver Weian Chen will line up 3rd in the GT Class after his team mate Massimiliano Wiser qualified in the Audi Sport Customer Racing Asia by TSRT entry.
Rafaelle Marciello, FIST-Team AAI: “I think it was a good qualifying for us and our car is behaving very well, but I think the most important thing is for tomorrow and the race. Our car is handling the conditions quiet well so let’s hope for a nice and clean race tomorrow.
“The Mercedes AMG GT3 is a really good car to drive, and really important is that it is good on its tyres for endurance races like tomorrow’s race. I think it will be a fun race!”
Asian Le Mans Series