There are many things that the Inter Europol Competition can be proud of from the four rounds that made up the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series, the most important being in the championship race right down to the final laps today (Sunday, February 19) – and that the team gave its all to get the ultimate result.
For the #43 trio of Charles Crews, Christian Bogle and Nolan Siegel – as well as the entire LMP2 crew on the team – it was a fantastic effort. It encompassed the heartbreak and then the elation of the two Dubai rounds, where the team DNF’d on Saturday and then secured its very first LMP2 victory 24 hours later, off the back of two pole positions.
The title race then came down to the pair of races in Abu Dhabi, at the super-impressive Yas Marina circuit. The solid fourth place on Saturday meant that the team were 11 points shy of the #3 DKR squad and that a win on Sunday was a must. It was looking good until the final minutes when the Oreca 07 Gibson slowed and we were forced to make an unscheduled stop.
It has been a near-perfect race until that point with Christian moving to the front of the field during his opening two stints, the strategy was spot on, taking the mandated 100-second stops in a timely manner, and then Charles ran at the front too, as he so often does.
Nolan had to battle hard, again moving to the fore with assertive and confident driving and the victory looked all but assured with 15 minutes to go and with all eyes on the #3 DKR and the chasing #98 behind that could deny the title.
Ultimately, a component in the gearbox failed and Nolan slowed and returned to the pits. The crew worked quickly and returned him to the track before calling it a day with 124 of 130 laps completed.
A little like Portimao last year in the European Le Mans Series, hopes were dashed in the final minutes, but the team continue to grow – the results show it – and we’re in it to win it.
The LMP3 teams had a harder time of it, but they too enjoyed moments towards the front of the field, especially the #73 trio of John Corbett, Alex Bukhantsov and James Winslow who started the season finale from the LMP3 class pole position and went on to finish in sixth position after another gutsy performance.
Inter Europol Competition now pack up, depart the UAE, and head back to Warsaw to prepare for the forthcoming opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Sebring next month.
“We did everything we could and in the end, our only goal was to win. We were in the fight for the championship in the final round, and we had to win the race. We did everything we could, but luck was just not on our side today, which is super unfortunate. We had the pace at both events – Dubai and here – to win races. We won one in Dubai, and we should have won one in Abu Dhabi, but ultimately we were unfortunate with reliability.”
“The championship was the goal, and finishing second in the championship didn’t mean a whole lot to me to be honest, so we had to win. In the end, we didn’t finish after a dominant performance from the team until 10 minutes from the end, so we had a shot and could have won without the two mechanical issues we suffered. It is what it is, and we move on.”