There was bags of promise, a stunning pole position, laps led in both of the LMP2 and LMP3 classes, but unfortunately, no luck or campaign to spray come to the chequered flag late on Saturday night at the Dubai Autodrome.
It certainly wasn’t from a lack of effort as the team prepped the sole LMP2 and the three LMP3s throughout the test day and fine-tuned the balance throughout the two official free practice sessions.
Saturday (11 February) brought the all-important qualifying session for the Bronze-graded drivers, and then the first of two 4 Hour races at the venue. The star of qualifying was undoubtedly Charles Crews in the #43 Oreca, claiming pole position by a staggering seven-tenths of a second. His second fastest time, which sets the grid for Sunday’s second round, was also half a second clear of the field.
This set the scene for the race; lining up on the pole position alongside the #3 DKR entry driven by Salih Yoluc and ahead of the #24 Nielsen car of Rodrigo Sales. His start was perfect and he soon had a handy two-second cushion, a gap he would extend to 14 seconds at various points through his stints behind the wheel.
Charles handed over to teammate Christian Bogle, but soon after in a routine stop, valuable seconds were lost as the Oreca Gibson refused to refire. Once back in the race, Christian maintained his position of fourth / fifth through the stops and boxed for Nolan Siegel.
Nolan had a cracking race, closing down the deficit to the leaders ahead to run a close fourth into the final hour. Tucked up behind the rear wing of Neel Jani in the #98 99 Racing entry, he ran at the race leader’s pace and pushed to the maximum, but despite his extra pace, could not, unfortunately, find a gap to make the move stick. Into the final laps and smoke from the left rear signalled a problem and soon he was into the pits, the car wheeled back into retirement with a suspected hub failure.
After so much pace, so much potential and sterling drives from the American trio, it was a disappointing end to the race, but at least with several silver linings heading into Sunday.
In the LMP3 class, there was again a great deal of potential, plus flashes of real pace, especially from the #73 trio of Alex Bukhantsov, John Corbett and James Winslow who eventually finished a solid fifth position.
The first two stints in particular were impressive from Alex, vaulting from fourth on the grid, to run second initially, and then lead the class when the #11 WTM Duqueine hit trouble. He maintained the lead through to the driver change before handing it to John. James showed good pace to finish in fifth.
It was more challenging for the #53 and #63 drivers, but Kai Askey showed his speed but ultimately though the two LMP3 trios finished ninth and 11th respectively.
We reset and go again Sunday from 3pm local time.
Inter Europol Competition wygrywa w klasie LMP2 w Asian Le Mans Series
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