Back to the front: Dubai win secures IECs first LMP2 victory in the Asian Le Mans Series

12 February 2023

We admit, our first LMP2 victory in the Asian Le Mans Series didn’t look likely at the conclusion of the opening lap of the four-hour race.

Charles Crews had done everything right up until that point, claiming the pole position for the second round of the championship this Sunday (12 February) by a cool half second in the #43 Inter Europol Competition Oreca, but a spin, whilst trying to regain the lead, saw him drop to the very back of the field.

From that point, the #43 crew, Charles, teammates Christian Bogle and Nolan Siegel were flawless, moving for dead last to take the victory by a cool 18 seconds. Every member of the ever-expanding Polish squad can be proud of today’s achievement, the first LMP2 poles and the first LMP2 win for three drivers in a debut race weekend of competition.

The story started with the test programme in the week, the official free practice sessions, but the momentum really came from the short qualifying session on Saturday morning. Charles, being the team’s bronze racer, was tasked with the 20 minutes session and he excelled. Pole position for race one by seven-tenths of a second, pole for the second race by half a second. Impressive at any time, but especially so as he has been feeling unwell for several days.

The first race on Saturday saw Charles lead through his stints, but it was to no avail as a left rear hub failure resulted in retirement anyway. Sunday was a reset, and Charles made a great start to maintain his advantage through the first few turns, before being passed by the #23 United. Fighting back, by his own admission, it was too much to ask of the tyres, and he spun. With the rest of the pack streaming past, Charles resumed last at the back of the field.

Going off strategy early in the race, he was able to work his way through the GT and LMP3 competitors, re-joining the leading LMP2 pack and crucially, on the lead lap.

Being off strategy in terms of pit stops, meant that Charles, and then Christian were third to sixth or thereabouts. As the race progressed, with various full course yellows and other incidents, the pace of the #43 showed, with Christian running a legitimate third – then second by the conclusion of his stints.

Nolan jumped in and was immediately closing the margin to second place, gaining the position as a safety car was called. This brought the leading #3 DKR into range in the final hour, reducing the margin from over 30 seconds to seven. Showing his raw speed on his LMP2 debut, the 18-year-old closed the gap to Charlie Eastwood, pounced and made a brave pass around the outside of his rival to take the lead. Gapping the field by a further 18 seconds in a short space of time, he took the chequered flag to record a very memorable win for the team and the all-American line-up.

For Charles, Christian and Nolan, it’s an LMP2 debut weekend to remember, for the team, it is also a very significant race result.

The team’s LMP3 squads had a tougher time of it in Dubai, but that’s not to say there were no notable performances. The #53 with Miguel Cristóvão headed the field at times and ran a solid second in today’s race before a mechanical issue ended the day prematurely. Similarly, the #73 shone on Saturday, finishing a fine fifth.

Having secured 27 points in Dubai, third in the Asian Le Mans Series LMP2 championship, the team stay late tonight, loading the container for the trip up the coast to Abu Dhabi for the concluding two rounds of the Asian Le Mans Series. Back in the LMP2 title hunt, we can’t wait for Wednesday’s test day!

Sascha Fassbender, Team Manager
“I am very thankful for the first LMP2 win for Inter Europol Competition. It’s made all the more special as it’s three rookies in the car, fighting and getting the win. That puts us back in the championship race, I think just ten points behind, and I am proud of the drivers and the whole Inter Europol Competition team. The team – everyone – worked perfectly.”

Charles Crews
“Qualifying yesterday was awesome and to get the double pole here was a personal goal of mine – a first in LMP2 for the team – and to do it twice was amazing and that energised me a little to push through. Both days have been a massive struggle for me personally from a wellness perspective. I don’t contribute this to the weight loss, it seems to be a bug I have gotten.

“The first race for me went as it needed to and then Christian did Nolan did great work before an untimely failure on the car. So that took us out of a podium, a possible win.

“Today I showed that I’m still a bronze driver and it was an unfortunate mistake on my end and I got too racey. I didn’t know I was racing a gold or silver – I thought it was another bronze – and I should have known better. Now we head to the next race, with the view of scoring two more points in qualifying and hopefully I will execute more in the manner of yesterday rather than today. But now we will just have to do the hat trick as we did in ELMS – four poles and three wins!”

Nolan Siegel
“This week is my first time ever in an LMP2, it’s been a fantastic week in so many ways, meeting the team, and such a welcoming environment. Everyone has been super helpful and then today with the win, has been fantastic. The car was great and I think we really came into our own as the night fell and that pass (for position and the lead) was critical and then control it to the end. Very happy to get the win. A great car and everything play out perfectly.”

Christian Bogle
“The start was a little nervous, but it was a case of head down and I did a good middle stint and Nolan put in a really strong finish. Everything came together to make it a great day, first race and win in LMP2, unbelievable!”

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