On the sunny Sunday the 12th of January 2020, with 27 degrees and 33% of humidity, the Asian Le Mans Series race at The Bend (near Adelaide) went underway. The Inter Europol Competition team’s #13 LMP3 started from 4th in class but Hippe had such a good start that he led for the first hour. But at the end of the race Martin Hippe and Nigel Moore had to be happy with a second place on the podium.
The #34 LMP2 driven by Kuba Smiechowski came in after about 45 minutes with a broken oil pump and, even though the team worked hard to fix it, it did not get back into the race. Both the #14 LMP3 and the #33 LMP2 finished the race in 4th position in their class. A good result for both cars but specially for the #14 as it suffered a broken brake line in the third hour.
On the whole, it was a tough day with mixed results and left the team with mixed feelings.
#13 Martin Hippe: “It was a difficult day for us. But we expected it to be difficult as we were already missing a bit of pace in free practice sessions. We are now second in the championship, one point behind the leader, but have two more races to go. I had a very good start and could pull away. But we were a bit unlucky with our strategy this time and had to be happy with finishing second.”
#13 Nigel Moore: “The track was new to all of us, which was nice to experience. The weather had ups and downs, but was mainly good. Not as hot as we all expected. In general, I think both Martin and I struggled a bit today but we did a good job and finished second. But definitely more work to be done In Sepang.”
#14 Peter Paddon: “I’d like to thank the whole team for making me and Garth feel really welcome. The car is amazing to drive and demands all of your attention. I didn’t have the best race due to an early off on the first lap, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”
#14 Austin McCusker: The track flows nice in some places, a little less in others. But it’s fun. The stint in the car was good. I was learning the track in the beginning of my stint as we did not get any time in second free practice because we had to change the engine. But we finished fourth, which was the best we could do. It was my first time in Australia. The car was completely different from what I have ever driven before, the track hugely different, the call to come on such a short notice was crazy. So in short, it was a bit of a crazy weekend.”
#33 Nathan Kumar: “I think we had a good race and both Mitch and John drove well. John said he felt like a rocket man, jumping high from a curb early on in the race. It was an eventful stint for me with the safety cars and full course yellows and trying to push hard to make up some time and places. But I think we did well as a team as we ended up finishing in fourth place.”
#34 Kuba Smiechowski: “It was not a really good weekend for us in the #34. I struggled in the beginning, but felt I did get closer to the speed of the first three cars after a couple of laps. I was feeling optimistic till trouble hit and we had to be in the box for two hours. At that point, the race was over for us. It was a lot of fun to drive here, even if between all these bends you do not get a moment to rest. You could see the other drivers struggled physically as well when they got out of the car. I hope we will be better prepared for Sepang and we can fight for the podium.”
Michael Keese (Team Director): “It was a crazy weekend, a crazy week and a crazy race. We have not had so many highs and low in a long time in one weekend. Hopefully the next one will be not so crazy.”