After a busy and very wet Saturday at the third round of Asian Le Mans Series at Sepang circuit in Malaysia, the team moved north to drive for the second week in a row. This time at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
The weather was typical Asian weather, with sunshine and over thirty degrees Celsius. Just as last week, there were twenty-three cars ready to start this weekend.
The first ones to do their qualifying were the six GT cars, for their fifteen-minute session.
Buriram is one of the modern tracks with plenty of asphalt in the run-off areas, which also meant that the message about Track Limits popped off again and again.
HubAuto Corsa Ferrari #27 was one of the first to set a quick time, but T2 Motorsports Ferrari #75 wouldn’t let them be on top by themselves. One of the teams who really got affected by Track Limits was Car Guy as they got their flying laps deleted, not once but twice before Come Ledoger had to pit for new tires, which was also what the other teams chose to do.
It caused some changes on the table, where HubAuto Corsa Ferrari #27 improved their time, that the others then had to beat.
T2 Motorsports Ferrari #75, however, surprised everyone, when Rio Haryanto set the fastest time, in the car that he shared with David Tjiptobiantoro and Christian Colombo. HubAuto Corsa Ferrari #27 with Tim Slade, Marcos Gomes and Liam Talbot would start the race from the second position, in front of Spirit Of Race Ferrari #51 with Daniel Serra, Ozz Negri Jr and Francesco Piovanetti.
Car Guy Ferrari #7 had the actual fastest time, but it got deleted as Come Ledoger was out of Track Limits three times in the qualifying. Which meant Ledoger, Takeshi Kimura, and the substitute for this weekend, Mikkel Jensen, would have to start the race from P5 – behind D’Station Racing Aston Martin #77, and ahead of the championship leader JLOC Lamborghini #88. With the points from Pole Position, T2 Motorsports Ferrari is now only eighteen points from the leader. It increases their chance, but with only maximum twenty-five points to gain, Lady Luck has to be on their side, in order to win the title.
The LMP3 category again had eight cars, that also got a fifteen-minute session.
After the first flying laps, it seemed that the battle was between Nielsen Racing and Graff, who had two cars each. They took turns to top the table before everyone pitted for fresh tires.
The championship leader Inter Europol Competition #13 was amongst the LMP3 cars, who had driven outside the track limits and got their laptimes deleted.
Three minutes before the end of the session, it was Nielsen Racing 1-2 with Colin Noble in #2 in front, followed by Garett Grist in #3. Even though Graff #9 with David Droux tried hard to improve their time, they didn’t manage to pass the two.
So Nielsen Racing #2 with Colin Noble and Tony Wells took Pole Position, ahead of their teammates in #3 with Garett Grist, Rob Hodes and Charles Crews. Graff #9 with David Droux, Sebastian Page and Eric Troulliet would start from P3, in front of their sister car #8 with Matthias Kaiser and Neale Muston.
The championship leader Inter Europol Competition #13 with Martin Hippe and Nigel Moore only qualified the car in the fifth position, but it was the best Ligier chassis against a top-four Norma dominance. The Pole to Nielsen Racing #2 means that the gap in the championship is now only two points between #13 and #2. Graff #9 and ACE1 Villorba Corse #12 still have a theoretical chance to win the title, but in order to do so they have to win and both #13 and #2 have to retire from the race.
Last but not least it was time for the seven LMP2 and two LMP2 Am cars to do their qualifying.
After everyone had done one flying lap, Thunderhead Carlin Racing #45 was the fastest, ahead of K2 Uchino Racing #96. Eurasia Motorsport #1 chose to do a third lap and jumped up to the top of the list. Actually, #45 matched the time afterwards, down to the thousandth, but since #1 set the time first, they remained in the first place.
The championship leader G-Drive Racing by Algarve #26 chose to only do a single lap, as opposed to what their competitors did.
With fresh tires on all the cars, the battles were down to tenth and thousandth, and also, one championship point.
Thunderhead Carlin Racing #45 drove a fantastic lap and quickly set the fastest laptime, with Ben Barnicoat behind the wheel, as well as Harry Tincknell and Jack Manchester in the pits. Eurasia Motorsport #1 with Nick Cassidy plus Nobuya Yamanaka and Daniel Gaunt would start the race from the second position, ahead of their teammates in #36 with Nick Foster, Aidan Read and Roberto Merhi.
Championship leader G-Drive Racing by Algarve #26 with Roman Rusinov, James French and Leonard Hoogenboom had to be happy with P4, which reduced their lead to eight points over Thunderhead Carlin Racing #45. So if #45 wins, #26 HAS TO finish second to win the championship. It couldn’t be more exciting.
Rick Ware Racing #25 with Guy Cosmo, Anthony Lazzaro and Phillippe Mulacek won the internal team duel in LMP2 Am, ahead of #52 with Cody Ware and Gustas Grinbergas. But the latter already secured the championship last time.
We’re looking forward to a very exciting four-hour race, where the preshow starts 5.15 CET Sunday morning, with the race starting at 5.45 CET. The race can be streamed on YouTube via this link.