The season finale in the Asian Le Mans Series 2021 was run at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, with 35 cars entered.
G-Drive Racing #26 with Ferdinand Habsburg, Yifei Ye, and Rene Binder started the race from Pole Position, ahead of the G-Drive Racing #25 with Franco Colapinto, John Falb and Rui Pinto de Andrade. Phoenix Racing #5 with Kelvin van der Linde, Matthias Kaiser and Simon Trummer was starting from third position.
Yesterdays winners JOTA #28 with Tom Blomqvist and Sean Gelael was starting P6.
RLR MSport #15 with Malthe Jakobsen, Bashar Mardini and Maxwell Hanratty was starting from Pole in the LMP3 category, ahead of United Autosports #23 with Wayne Boyd, Manuel Maldonado and Rory Penttinen, while CD Sport #33 with Adam Eteki, Michael Jensen and Nick Adcock was starting from P3.
The winners in yesterday’s race, Colin Noble and Tony Wells in Nielsen Racing #9 was starting from 7th.
GT Pole was once again claimed by Raffaele Marciello, Marcos Gomes and Liam Talbot in the HubAuto Racing Mercedes #1, with yesterdays’ winners GPX Racing Porsche #40 with Julien Andlauer, Axcil Jefferies and Alain Ferte in second, while Garage 59 Aston Martin #89 with Marvin Kirchhöfer, Michael Benham and Yuki Nemoto was starting third.
The race went off with a smooth first lap, with JOTA #28 instantly gaining a few spots, and G-Drive Racing #26 taking the race lead.
Garage 59 Aston Martin #89 had gabbed the GT lead. There had been a bit of contact in the mid-field, so GPX Racing Porsche #40 with one of it’s mirrors dangling .
Era Motorsport #18 had a small off, but nothing too serious for Dwight Merriman. Rinaldi Racing Ferrari #66 lost a few spots, when Manuel Lauck had a spin, due to contact with another car. That resulted in some damage to the rear of the car, and on top of a puncture, the damages was so severe, that it had to be pushed into the garage.
GPX Racing Porsche #40 had to go to the pits for a door change, so they would have a new wing mirror. Drama for the championship leading car.
Formula Racing Ferrari #60 and Kessel Racing Ferrari #27 stopped out on the circuit, resulting in a Safety Car, so the two cars could be receoved.
There was another Safety Car period, after half an hour of running, when AF Corse Ferrari #51 and #54 collided at high speed, at the end of the back straight. #54 had hit the rear of #51 with a lot of force, and there was a load of debris on the circuit. Thomas Flohr was able to step out of the car, while Francesco Piovanetti took a bit longer to get out of the car. Both drivers had to make a trip to the medical center for a checkup, which is standard after such an accident.
Kessel Racing Ferrari #27 somehow reappeared, which was a bit of a surprise, after it had stopped on the circuit earlier.
The pit was closed for the first few SC laps, and once it finally opened, it got flooded with cars. That resulted a few place changes, since people had problems getting out of their pit boxes, plus some teams decided to change the drivers.
Era Motorsport #18 took the change to take multiple of their mandatory pitstops, while the competition was running around on reduced speed.
Some teams took several pitstops, so they could get their Bronze rated driver out, once they had passed the minimum driving time.
Malthe Jakobsen in RLR MSport #15 had been swapped for Maxwell Hanratty, without the team gaining any kind of advantage from the rapid Dane, due to the SC periods.
The race went green again, after just over half an hour behind the Safety Car.
JOTA #28 had taken the lead of the race, ahead of Phoenix Racing #5 and G-Drive Racing #25. Franco Colapinto in #25 didn’t want to run behind the green Phoenix car, so he braked at bit later, and made his way past Matthias Kaiser, at the end of the back straight.
United Autosports #2 and #3 had been a bit too close to each other, so the stewards were investigating on that incident.
The LMP3 lead changed, when Jean Glorieux in DKR Engineering #63 managed to overtake Hanratty in RLR MSport #15.
HubAuto Racing Mercedes #1 got a Drive-through penalty, after hitting Rinaldi Racing Ferrari #66 earlier in the race. #66 was out of the race alraedy, since the mechanics wasn’t able to repair the car.
Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW #34 was the new leader of the GT category, down to a combination of a quick Nicky Catsburg, and a pitstop at exactly the right point of the race.
G-Drive Racing #25 took the lead of the race from JOTA #28, and just a few seconds later, there was a Full Course Yellow, since some debris would have to be picked up from the circuit.
That FCY made several of the teams pit, with JOTA #28 once again jumping into the lead, since the team opted only to refuel Gelael, while G-Drive Racing #25 swapped Colapinto for Rui Pinto de Andrade.
Both Era Motorsport #18 and GPX Racing Porsche #40 had been caught crossing the white line at the pit exit – Drive-through penalty for both cars.
The second position in GT changes, when Inception Racing McLaren #7 got by Garage 59 Aston Martin #88.
There was contact between JOTA #28 and Garage 59 Aston Martin #88, when Sean Gelael tried to dive on the inside, but actually collected Mike Benham in the #88. Both cars spun around, but quickly rejoined. But it was still enough time lost for JOTA #28, for G-Drive Racing #25 to jump into the lead.
Kessel Racing Ferrari #27 got a whopping 35 seconds Stop & Go penalty, for speeding in in the pitlane. Had the driver even put on the pitspeed limiter, with such a penalty?
DKR Engineering #63 was under a lot of presure from United Autosports #23, in the fight for first amongst the LMP3 cars. That battle quickly came to an end, since #63 received a Drive-through for Track Limits. Nielsen Racing #8 received a similar penalty.
G-Drive Racing #25 was leading LMP2 at the halfway point of the race, while United Autosports #23 was in the LMP3 lead, and Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW #34 in GT.
United Autosports #2 and DKR Engineering #63 had both been speeding in the pits – Drive-through penalty for both cars.
And to make matters even worse, it was another Drive-through for DKR Engineering #63, to speeding once again in the pits.
Era Motorsport #18 got a Stop & Go penalty, when Andreas Laskaratos had taken a bit of a shortcut in one of the chicanes, without lifting off the throttle.
Inception Racing McLaren #7 took the GT lead, when Ben Barnicoat overtook Chandler Hull in Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW #34.
G-Drive Racing #25 and JOTA #28 was separated by only a few car lengths, in the fight for the lead of the race. Blomqvist in #28 made it past, with 70 minutes left on the clock.
Not only had G-Drive Racing #25 lost the lead on the circuit, but they had also been caught speeding in the pits – Drive-through penalty.
Kessel Racing #27 got a Drive-through penalty for Track Limits.
The final hour started with JOTA #28 leading LMP2, United Autosports #2 in LMP3, and Inception Racing McLaren #7 in GT.
United Autosports #2 got a Drive-through, for having hit GPX Racing Porsche #40.
Following their penalty earlier in the race, G-Drive Racing #25 had managed to close to gap to Phoenix Racing #5, with the two cars zig-zagging through slower trafic.
Era Motorsport #18 was pushed into the garage, with half an hour left of the race.
Inception Racing McLaren #7 and Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche #99 was fighting for the victory on the track.
Era Motorsport #18 got a 6 sconds Stop & Go penalty to finish the day off.
Mikkel Jensen was really wringing the neck of the Kessel Racing by Car Guy Ferrari #57, with the young Dane being the final driver in the car. He had snuck into the lead of the GT category, but would have to pit for fuel one more time, which would drop him down the field – but how far?
There was drama with 8 minutes to go, when Inception Racing McLaren #7 was told to let Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche #99 pass once again. #7 would have to drop a total of 10 seconds, and then slide in between #99 and Rinaldi Racing #55. It only took a few turns, until #7 had overtaken the Porsche again.
That penalty resulted in the Kessel Racing by Car Guy Ferrari #57 all of a sudden being able to retain the lead of the race.
Rinaldi Racing Ferrari #55 also made its way past Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche #99, so they ended up losing two spots in two laps.
With two minutes left on the clock, there was barely a second between JOTA #28 and G-Drive Racing #25, in the fight for the victory. Even though it was a tough battle, the positions didn’t change.
JOTA #28 with Sean Gelael and Tom Blomqvist won the race, ahead of G-Drive Racing #25 with John Falb, Franco Colapinto and Rui Pinto de Andrade, while Phoenix Racing #5 with Simon Trummer, Kelvin van der Linde and Matthias Kaiser finished third.
Era Motorsport #18 with Dwight Merriman, Kyle Tilley and Andreas Laskaratos was the best, and sadly also lone, LMP2 Am team.
United Autosports took an impressive 1-2-3, with #23 driven by Manuel Maldonado, Wayne Boyd and Rory Penttinen as winners, ahead of Jim McGuire, Duncan Tappy and Andrew Bentley in #3, and #2 with Ian Loggie, Rob Wheldon and Andy Meyrick.
Kessel Racing by Car Guy Ferrari #57 with Takeshi Kimura, Come Ledogar and Mikkel Jensen took a surprising victory, ahead of Inception Racing McLaren #7 with Ben Barnicoat, Ollie Millroy and Brendan Iribe, while Rinaldi Racing Ferrari #55 with Davide Rigon, David Perel and Rino Mastronardi finished third in the race.
Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW #35 with Henry Walkenhorst, Jörg Breuer and Sami Matti Trogen was the best GT Am team in the race.
G-Drive Racing #26 won the LMP2 Championship with Ferdinand Habsburg, Yifei Ye and Rene Binder, ahead of JOTA #28 and G-Drive Racing #25. One Le Mans auto-invite for #26.
Era Motorsport #18 was the best Am team in the standings, but no Le Mans tickets were handed out to that title, this time around.
The LMP3 Championship was won by United Autosports #23, ahead of United Autosports #3 and Nielsen Racing #9 with Colin Noble and Tony Wells. That’s another auto-invite for UA, on top of them already having received invites for winning Le Mans and the ELMS titles in 2020.
Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche #99 with Alfred and Robert Renauer plus Ralf Bohn won the GT Championship, ahead of GPX Racing Porsche #40 with Julien Andlauer, Axcil Jefferies and Alain Ferte, Rinaldi Racing Ferrari #55 and Inception Racing McLaren #7. The four teams has received an auto-invite for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2021.
Rinaldi Racing #66 won the GT Am title, ahead of Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW #35 and Kessel Racing Ferrari #27. No invites for them, since they count towards the over GT pool of Le Mans invites.
That was an amazing finish to the very short 2021 Asian Le Mans Series season was. But there was plenty of great racing, during the 16 hours of racing.