Three further invitations to the 2017 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans were decided after a thrilling finale to the 2016/17 Asian Le Mans Series with the 4 Hours of Sepang.
In the LMP2 class the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2, driven by Andreas Pizzitola, Andrea Roda and Aidan Read, took its first victory of the season, ahead of the #8 Race Performance Judd-powered ORECA 03R, piloted by Giorgio Maggi, Struan Moore and Fabien Schiller.
Taking the third podium place was the Algarve Pro Racing sister car, the Judd-powered #24 Ligier JS P2 with the driver line-up of Michael Munemann, Tacksung Kim and Mark Patterson.
The LMP2 class battle was thrown open after the retirement of the series-leading #35 Nissan-powered Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 03R at the end of the first hour.
“It was a strange start, with a lot of crashes and so we basically started from last position,” said Andrea Roda, driver of the race-winning #25 Algarve Pro Racing entry. “We had to deal with the traffic from the GT and LMP3, but I tried to avoid any issues and crashes. I tried to push as much as I could for two stints. We had very good pace. The car was awesome.”
Aidan Read, making his LMP2 debut in the Asian Le Mans Series, said:” It was a great stint for me and I was very happy. It was a massive challenge coming here for my first time in an LMP2. I had a great time out in the car. The speed was good. As we saw, the start was interesting and mixed up the race completely. From there it was about running consistently.”
Tockwith Motorsports, who arrived at Sepang four points behind the LMP3 series leaders ARC Bratislava, took the class victory and with it the LMP3 Championship title. The Tockwith Motorsports driver line-up of Nigel Moore and Phil Hanson were chased to the chequered flag, however by the #85 G-Print by Triple 1 Racing Ligier JSP3 driven by Hanss Lin and Shaun Thong Wei Fung.
Nigel Moore was delighted with the victory.
“It was great,” said Moore. “We had a pretty good start and ended up leading the race overall for quite a few laps. There was an incident on the first corner in the first lap and we avoided it as best we could. The team did an absolutely fantastic job.”
“Like Nigel said, brilliant result, really happy winning the championship,” said fellow driver Phil Hanson. “That last stint was exciting as well. A big thank you to everyone at Tockwith Motorsports, all the mechanics. Also to Ligier. It’s been a quick car throughout the year.”
Victory in the GT class went to the #31 Audi Team Korea Audi R8 LMS GT3 driven by Kyung Ouk You, Marchy Lee and Alex Yoong. The #31 car was chased to the line by the #3 DH Racing Ferrari F488 GT3 piloted by Rino Mastronardi, Alex Riberas and Olivier Beretta. However it was the #5 DH Racing Ferrari F488 GT3 which secured the GT Championship with its fifth place.
Invitations have now been extended to Algarve Pro Racing, Tockwith Motorsports and DH racing to compete in the French classic this coming June.
The Asian Le Mans Series next gathers for the Sprint Cup for which the first round will be held on April 7 – 9 at Sepang International Circuit.