The new season (2015-2016) of the Asian Le Mans Series debuted with the WEC at Fuji.
Shinji Nakano and Nicolas Leutwiler, in the #8 Race Performance Oreca 03 R Judd have won the first race of the 2015/16 season of the Asian Le Mans Series at the Fuji Speedway in Japan. Crossing the line with a lap’s lead, the duo had a nearly perfect race to start their season.
At the first corner, Tristan Gommendy in the #99 Eurasia Motorsport Oreca 03 R Nissan managed to overtake Nakano and held on to the position for the first hour. But once Gommendy handed over to Tack Sung Kim, who is still getting to grips with the track, not having had much track time before today, Nicolas Leutwiler managed to retake first place and widened the gap with every lap. The #99 Eurasia Motorsport car, finishing 2nd in LM P2, ended up a bit further down the field, due to a problem with the battery during a driver change, and then a puncture forced them to pit once more. Despite that, it proved competitive.
In LM P3, the #1 DC Racing Ligier JSP3 had a very clean race, winning the class and finishing 3rd overall. Ho-Pin Tung and David Cheng were very pleased with the way their new Ligier LM P3 handled in its first ever race, and took advantage to test out their tyres and other strategies, as their competition in LM P3, the two new Team AAI ADESS 03 cars had a bit of trouble.
After taking a very good start, having to begin from the back of the grid due to missing qualifying, they quickly made ground and in less than 30 minutes, Masataka Yanagida in the #89 Team AAI ADESS 03 had made it up the field to rejoin Ho-Pin Tung. Unfortunately, the sister #88 Team AAI ADESS car had stopped on track at T10, which brought out the safety car to reclaim it. 1h30 into the race, trouble struck the #89 ADESS 03, which stopped at T11 with a broken driveshaft.
In GT, class pole setters Clearwater Racing, with their #3 McLaren 650S GT3, crossed the line 2nd overall. The trio of Mok Weng Sun, Keita Sawa and Rob Bell were naturally pleased with the result.
Showing an impressive climb up the field was the #38 Spirit of Race Ferrari 458 GT3, who, starting 11th, managed to claim 2nd in GT, 4th overall, with Nasrat Muzayyin and Rui Aguas sharing the wheel. Third in GT was the #92 Team AAI BMW Z4 GT3 of Han Chen Chen, Hiroki Yoshimoto and Shinya Hosokawa, who have learnt from this round and are planning to come back even stronger in Sepang.
The GT Am winners, #51 KCMG Porsche GT3 Cup of Christian Ried, James Munro and Paul Ip, were all pleased to come 8th overall and are happy with the car and the team’s hard work.
This first race at Fuji has shown the potential for the series and we are all looking forward to returning to Sepang for the next round!
Patrick Dias, Michelin (Asia-Pacific Motorsport Director): “We are happy with the new start of the Asian Le Mans Series and we've had good feedback from the teams concerning the new organisation and structure of the 2015/16 Asian Le Mans Series. They are sounding positive towards a stronger commitment in the future. The ticket to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race is interesting leverage.”
Cyrille Taesch Wahlen, Asian LMS Managing Director: “This first event was really promising. We’ve been lucky to launch our new season with the WEC at Fuji, and also had the support of the journalists. Things are looking good, with the ACO announcing that Dome will be the 5th LM P3 chassis manufacturer. Due to the calendar clashes, we unfortunately couldn’t have more cars here with us this weekend, but there will be a few additions at Sepang (6-8 November). Of course, I need to thank the teams for their support of the ACO in the relaunch of the Asian Le Mans Series. I would also like to thank Audi China and Absolute Racing for helping to arrange the support races paddock this weekend at Fuji.”