The opening round of the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series was run today at the Dubai Autodrome.
G-Drive Racing #25 with Franco Colapinto, Rui Pinto de Andrade and John Falb started the Saturday race from Pole Position amongst the LMP2 cars, ahead of their teammates in #26 with Yifei Ye, Ferdinand Habsburg and Rene Binder, while Nicki Thiim had qualified Phoenix Racing #5, which he shares with Simon Trummer and Matthias Kaiser, in the third spot.
United Autosports #23 with Wayne Boyd, Manuel Maldonado and Rory Penttinen was on Pole in LMP3, ahead of their teammates Duncan Tappy, Andrew Bentley and Jim McGuire in #3, while CD Sport #33 with Adam Eteki plus Michael Jensen and Nick Adcock was starting third.
Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche #99 with Robert Renauer, Alfred Renauer and Ralf Bohn started from Pole Position amongst the GT cars, ahead of GPX Racing Porsche #40 with Julien Andlauer, Axcil Jefferies and Alain Ferte, while Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche #93 with Klaus Bachler, Steffen Görig and Antares Au started third.
There was a bit of drama at Eurointernational #11 ahead of the race, when Phil Mulacek hadn’t done a laptime within 110% of the fastest LMP2 cars. That made the stewards rule him out of the race, so the team would have to rely on Neale Muston and John Corbett only, for the four-hour races today and tomorrow.
Phoenix Racing #4 was reduced to two drivers as well, but that was due to Vincent Kolb having back pain, so Jan-Erik Slooten and Leo Weiss would have to do the races alone.
The 36 car field would take the start in 22 degrees and sunshine, at 14.15 local Dubai time.
There was drama in Turn 1, where JOTA #28 with Sean Gelael tried to take the lead going into the first turn, all the way back from 4. starting position. The Indonesian driver braked way too late, and forced the two G-Drive Racing cars into doing the same, so Simon Trummer in Phoenix Racing #5 could overtake all three drivers at ease.
United Autosports #2 had to pit after Lap 1, since Ian Loggie had got a puncture after contact with another car. ARC Bratislava #44 had to pit one lap later, with Miro Konopka doing a very slow in-lap.
DKR Engineering #63 had to pit after 10 minutes of racing, where Jean Glorieux had some technical issues with the car.
GPX Racing Porsche #40 had taken the GT lead, since Precote Herberth Motorsport had put their lowest-ranked drivers in at the start of the race.
Kessel Racing Ferrari #27 had a spin in Turn 15, but rejoined quickly.
JOTA #28 had caught the leading Phoenix Racing #5, and Gelael put Trummer under a lot of pressure. Gelael tried to overtake Trummer while dealing with slower traffic, resulting in the two cars colliding. That gave some damage to both front and rear of the #28, while #5 got a damaged rear end. Both cars had to pit immediately, and Phoenix Racing had a few problems getting their rear assembly off, which cost them even more time. That resulted in a G-Drive Racing 1-2 with #26 ahead of #25.
Maxime Martin had raced the Garage 59 Aston Martin #88 all the way up to second in the GT category, having taken full advantage of the majority of the competition being Am drivers.
ARC Bratislava #44 was back on the track, after almost 20 minutes of repairs in the pits. They were awarded a Drive-through penalty, since they had jumped the start of the race.
DKR Engineering #63 had also rejoined, after just over half an hour in the pits. They had to pit again shortly after.
The stewards had looked into the contact between #28 and #5, and it was to nobody’s surprise, that JOTA #28 was handed a Drive-through.
Sean Gelael had another incident, racing through the field, where he spun at the end of the back straight. With the penalty, and the spin, he was right behind Simon Trummer in Phoenix Racing #5 once again.
United Autosports #2, Phoenix Racing #5, Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW #35, AF Corse Ferrari #54 and Racing Team India #64 all got warnings for Track Limits.
Era Motorsport #18 had a spin, that cost Dwight Merriman a few seconds, but nothing worse. Nielsen Racing #8 had a spin shortly after, but Rodrigo Sales quickly rejoined.
AF Corse Ferrari #51 also had a small spin, but nothing too dramatic.
Rinaldi Racing Ferrari #55 had lost its right mirror, so they were told to get that replaced, during their next pitstop.
Racing Team India #64 had been a bit too fast in the pits, so they got a 5 seconds Stop & Go penalty for that.
The was troubles for Nielsen Racing #8, who was stopped at Turn 14, before Sales was able to get the car back to the pits, driving very slowly. At almost the exact time, United Autosports #3 had an unrelated spin, but nothing serious.
Mikkel Jensen had been installed in the Kessel Racing by Car Guy Ferrari #57, and made up several positions in the GT category.
There was a fight for third brewing in the LMP3 category, where Jim McGuire in the United Autosports #3 had dropped back to Bashar Mardini in the RLR MSport #15, who was overtaken by Tony Wells in Nielsen Racing #9 shortly after, with Mardini dropping all the way to 6th, when CD Sport #33 with Adam Eteki also overtook him. Eteki grabbed P3 only a few laps later, starting to chase down the two cars ahead.
Mikkel Jensen in the Kessel Racing by Car Guy Ferrari #57 got a Track Limits warning, just like Christian Hook in the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari #66, and Garage 59 Aston Martin #89 with Yuki Nemoto.
DKR Engineering #63 stopped in the middle of Turn 13, bringing their race to an end. A Full Course Yellow was needed to recover the car.
GPX Racing Porsche #40 and AF Corse Ferrari #54 were both warned about Track Limits.
ARC Bratislava #44 had to go back in the garage once again, for more repairs on the new Ginetta LMP3 car.
At the halfway point of the race, it was G-Drive Racing #26 leading LMP2, United Autosports #23 in LMP3, and GPX Racing Porsche #40 in the GT category. Both #26 and #23 had some huge leads of almost a lap, while #40 was about half a minute ahead of the competition.
Mikkel Jensen in the Kessel Racing by Car Guy #57 had won 8 spots, before he handed the car over to Come Ledogar.
There were troubles for Precote Herberth Motorsports #93, who had to crawl slowly back to the pits.
Malthe Jakobsen had taken over the RLR MSport #15, and made up a lot of the lost ground, setting his sights on second position.
Eurointernational #11 was handed a drive-through penalty, for overtaking under yellow flags.
AF Corse Ferrari #54 had a spin in the middle of a huge lump of traffic, but Francesco Castellacci was able to rejoin swiftly.
Malthe Jakobsen in #15 took the second place of the race, by running side to side with Colin Noble in the Nielsen Racing #9 for several corners. Well raced by the young Dane.
JOTA #28 was handed a 5 seconds Stop & Go for constant abuse of Track Limits by Stoffel Vandoorne. Sean Gelael was back in the car again, so he had to serve the penalty for his teammate.
Rinaldi Racing Ferrari #66 got a Drive-through penalty, for not respecting Blue Flags.
The final hour of the race started with G-Drive Racing #26 in the LMP2 lead, United Autosports #23 in LMP3, and Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche #99 in GT, but still needed to do their final fuel stop, while GPX Racing Porsche #40 already was fuelled to the end.
Mardini in RLR MSport #15 had a spin, losing about 15 seconds before he got going again.
Nicki Thiim was third in the Phoenix Racing #5, but had to keep the pace up, since Franco Colapinto in G-Drive Racing #25 was charging hard, to try and grab the final podium spot.
Garage 59 Aston Martin #89 got a Drive-through penalty, when Marvin Kirchhöfer had run a bit too much, too often, outside the white lines.
The G-Drive Racing #25 mechanics kept topping the car up with oil at every pitstop. They had done that all throughout the race, and did so too during the final fuel stop of the day.
Kessel Racing by Car Guy Ferrari #57 got a drive-through, since Come Ledogar had fallen foul of Track Limits.
ARC Bratislava #44 ended the day by getting another Drive-through penalty, for having run too fast in the pitlane.
RLR MSport #15 lost fourth in the race, when Mardini lost two spots in the same corner, to United Autosports #2 with Andy Meyrick and Phoenix Racing #4 with Jan-Erik Slooten.
Eurointernational #11 got a 7 seconds Stop & Go, CD Sport #33 a 1 second Stop & Go, and Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche #93 a 1 second Stop & Go for not having done the minimum pitstop times correctly. There is a minimum time in the pits for the pitstops, since the Asian Le Mans Series don’t want the teams to fumble too much with the refuelling, tire changes and driver changes.
The GT lead got less and less, with the ever-leading GPX Racing Porsche #40, being caught by Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche #99, which had a bit of yo-yo race, having dropped far down the GT category with Ralf Bohn behind the wheel, following by twin brothers Renauer racing up towards the front again.
Alain Ferte lot the lead of the race with four minutes left on the clock, when he spun due to his own fault in the GPX Racing Porsche #40. that meant that Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche #99 was able to take the lead of the race.
It only got worse for #40, when they got a Drive-though penalty for abuse of Track Limits.
G-Drive Racing #26 with Yefei Ye, Ferdinand Habsburg and Rene Binder won the race, ahead of JOTA #28 with Stoffel Vandoorne and Sean Gelael, while Nicki Thiim, Matthias Kaiser and Simon Trummer finished third with Phoenix Racing #5.
Era Motorsport #18 with Andreas Laskaratos, Dwight Merriman and Kyle Tilley was the best Am team in LMP2.
United Autosports #23 with Manuel Maldonado, Wayne Boyd and Rory Penttinen won the LMP3 category, ahead of Nielsen Racing #9 with Colin Noble and Tony Wells, while United Autosports #3 with Duncan Tappy, James McGuire and Andrew Bentley was P3.
Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche #99 with Alfred and Robert Renauer plus Ralf Bohn won the GT category, ahead of GPX Racing Porsche #40 with Alain Ferte, Julien Andlauer and Axcil Jefferies, and the Inception Racing McLaren #7 with Ollie Millroy, Ben Barnicoat and Brendan Iribe in the third position
Rinaldi Racing Ferrari #66 was the best Am car in GT.
The second race of the season will be run tomorrow, starting at 9.45 CET.
GPX Racing Porsche #40 didn’t serve their Drive-through for Track Limits, so 30 seconds has been added to their race time. That will drop them to fourth, while Inception Racing McLaren #7 are the new second place finishers, and Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW #34 with Chandler Hull, Jonathan Miller and Nicky Catsburg moves up to third.