Steaming hot qualifying at Sepang – updated

The final qualifying of the season in the Asian Le Mans Series 2018/19 was run at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

22 cars was ready on the former Formula 1 circuit, and were battling for the starting positions in the steaming hot afternoon sun and 33 degrees Celsius air temperature.

First out was the five GT cars.

The two Tianshi Racing Team Audi #66 and #88 were some of the first out on the track. Since the previous round at Buriram, both Audi R8 LMS GT3 had been updated with the new Evo kit, which should give them a bit more speed.

That really worked out well for Dries Vanthoor in #88, who put down the fastest lap of all, ahead of their championship competitor Car Guy Ferrari #11, who had put James Calado in the car.

The #11 actually had a chance of grabbing the Championship title already with a Pole, so Calado had a bit extra to drive for.

Ferrari aimed so much at the Pole Position, that both Car Guy #11 and Spirit of Race #51 pitted for brand new tires.

Both Tianshi Racing Team Audi cars pitted with 2 minutes to go, and let the Ferraris chase the #88 Pole time.

#51 was the first to improve, followed by #11 – but none of the times were faster than #88.

TF Sport Aston Martin #5 was also taking part in the GT qualifying, but the team spent the time on giving Ivor Dunbar a few extra laps ahead of the race, plus checking the new engine that they had just fitted, after they had to change it after the Saturday morning practice session.

Tianshi Racing Team Audi #88 with Dries Vanthoor took Pole Position ahead of Car Guy Ferrari #11 with James Calado and Spirit of Race Ferrari #51 with Alessandro Pier Guidi. So there was no championship decision today.

Tianshi Racing Team Audi #88
Photo: Asian Le Mans Series

The LMP2 and LMP3 cars were up next for their 15 minutes of qualifying. None of the championships could be decided today in those categories, since all the points gaps were so narrow.

Algarve Pro Racing #24 with Andrea Pizzitola was the first car to post a fast time, ahead of Spirit of Race #8 with Pipo Derani and United Autosports #22 with Phil Hanson.

United Autosports #2 with Wayne Boyd was fastest in LMP3, ahead of Viper Niza Racing #65 with Nigel Moore and Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen #7 with Christian Stubbe Olsen.

After a bit of a wait at the start of the session, the #25 Algarve Pro Racing made it to the track with Anders Fjordbach behind the wheel, instantly clocking the second fastest time of all, right behind their teammates in #24.

The fight for the LMP2 top positions was really on, with Panis Barthez Competition #23 with Matthieu Lahaye also jumping into the top 3. United Autosports #22 with Phil Hanson was next to set the fastest lap.

But after an extremely close qualifying, we had Spirit of Race #8 with Pipo Derani on Pole Position, with United Autosports #22 with Phil Hanson in P2 and Algarve Pro Racing #24 with Andrea Pizzitola in P3.

Spirit of Race #8
Photo: Asian Le Mans Series

The second Algarve Pro Racing #25 ended up P5, but could potentially had been a bit further up, if it wasn’t for Anders Fjordbach being caught out by a few track limits during the session.

Viper Niza Racing #65 grabbed LMP3 Pole with Nigel Moore, ahead of United Autosports #2 with Wayne Boyd and Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen #7 with Christian Stubbe Olsen.

Viper Niza Racing #65
Photo: Asian Le Mans Series

Katherine Legge had the honour to qualify the all-female R24 #50 with Margot Laffite and Michelle Gatting as teammates, and ended up P9 in the LMP3 category, after only ever running in the car for two practice sessions. So it’s a tough job for the ladies tomorrow, but who knows what happens.

Four hours is a long time to race in very high temperatures. The race starts at 05.00 CET and can be followed on YouTube, where the stream starts half an hour before race start.


Update: Viper Niza Racing #65 has lost all times post session, since the fire proof clothing of Nigel Moore didn’t confirm with the regulations. So that promotes United Autosports #2 with Wayne Boyd in Pole Position, ahead of Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen #7 with Christian Stubbe Olsen and Eurasia Motorsport #36 with Aiden Read.

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