The qualifying to the 2019/20 season’s third round of Asian Le Mans Series was run at Sepang track in Malaysia.
The 23 teams were lucky to start in the sunshine, which certainly wouldn’t last.
First, it was the six GT cars on the track. Unfortunately, there were no BMW in Malaysia this time, since all the three cars this season were run by Chinese teams, who didn’t have permission to leave China due to the Coronavirus.
But a good mix of Ferrari, Aston Martin and Lamborghini were present. The defending champion, Car Guy Ferrari #7, was the first to set a fast time, but they immediately got challenged by HubAuto Corsa Ferrari #27.
The teams went in to put in fresh tires before attempting to improve their laptimes.
HubAuto Corsa Ferrari #27 improved their time by almost a second, and now they were the fastest.
Spirit of Race Ferrari #51 also wanted to be the quickest in the qualifying, until Car Guy Ferrari #7 snatched first place from under their nose.
It ended up with a Ferrari 1-2-3, with Car Guy #7 with Come Ledogar behind the wheel plus Takeshi Kimura and Kei Cozzolino on Pole, ahead of Spirit of Race #51 with Alessandro Pier Guidi as the qualifying driver, as well as Ozz Negri Jr and Francesco Piovanetti, and HubAuto Corsa #27 driven by Davide Rigon plus Marcos Gomes and Liam Talbot in P3. D’Station Racing Aston Martin #77 was P4, in front of T2 Motorsports Ferrari #75 and JLOC Lamborghini #88.
After that, it was the eight LMP3 cars’ turn for their quali.
While the GT cars had clear skies, the LMP3 cars weren’t that lucky as dark clouds started to hang over the track.
The defending champion Inter Europol Competition #13 was the first to set a fast time, that the others tried to beat. Their closest competitor was Graff #9, while both Nielsen Racing #2 and #3 also attempted to beat Nigel Moore in #13.
While Inter Europol Competition #13 pitted for new tires, Graff #9 did an extra lap and set the fastest time, with six minutes left on the clock.
With a set of new tires, #13 tried to improve their time, as did Nielsen Racing #2, #3 and Viper Niza Racing #65.
The new tires improved times, and despite a half bad last sector, Inter Europol Competition #13, with Nigel Moore in the car and Martin Hippe in the pits, managed to take Pole Position. Nielsen Racing #3 with Garett Grist behind the wheel and Rob Hodes as well as Charles Crews in the pits was P2, while Graff #9 driven by David Droux plus Eric Troulliet and Sebastian Page was third.
However, not all the cars were allowed to set a quick fast lap, since ACE1 Villorba Corse #12 stalled in the middle of the track and it resulted in a local yellow flag in Sector 2, so nobody could improve their time. Afterwards, the marshals had to clean an oil track that #12 had left. Hopefully, the team would manage to solve it before the race, which will be run four hours after the problem happened.
It also delayed the LMP2 qualifying nearly fifteen minutes, as all oil tracks must be gone before the fastest cars in the series can do their laps.
The cars, however, didn’t even last for three minutes on the track before the race director chose to red flag the race, due to Inter Europol Endurance #33 being stuck in the gravel in one of the run-off areas. Thus, all the cars had to slowly drive back to the pits, while the marshals take care of the car.
Ten minutes later, the cars could come back to the track.
The championship leader G-Drive Racing by Algarve #26 was fastest after all the cars’ first flying lap. Inter Europol Endurance #33 was second fastest, while Eurasia Motorsport #36 was also in the top three.
Despite the reduced time, the teams still managed to pit for new tires.
It improved the laptimes even more, K2 Uchino Racing #96 suddenly jumped to first place. It appeared to be a surprise Pole, until Eurasia Motorsport #1 with Nick Cassidy in the car took Pole Position in the very last second. Cassidy shared the car with Masataka Yanagida and Daniel Gaunt, while K2 Uchino Racing #96, with Shaun Thong behind the wheel and Haruki Kurosawa in the pits, would start the race from P2, and G-Drive Racing by Algarve #26 with Roman Rusinov surprisingly only qualified third, in the car that he shared with Leonard Hoogenboom and James French.
In LMP2 Am, it was unfortunately only Rick Ware Racing against Rick Ware Racing, where #25 with Anthony Lazzaro (the qualifying driver), Guy Cosmo and Phillippe Mulacek was the fastest, ahead of Cody Ware (the one who qualified the car) and Gustas Grinbergas in #52. ARC Bratislava #4 is unfortunately not in Malaysia due to personal reason for Miro Konopka, while RLR MSport #59 had a fire in the car in Australia, which they couldn’t repair in time.
Now the teams have three hours before the green flag at 17.00 local time or 10.00 CET. There will be a live YouTube stream at 9.30 CET. And then the rain started, just as the qualifying was finished…