Ferdinand Habsburg, at the wheel of the #26 G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 he shared with Rene Binder and Yefei Ye, took the win in the opening round of the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series, Habsburg taking the chequered flag nearly two minutes ahead of Sean Gelael in the #28 JOTA ORECA 07.
Completing the podium positions in the P2 class was the #5 Phoenix Racing ORECA driven by Matthias Kaiser, Nicki Thiim and, crossing the line 63 seconds behind the #28 car, Simon Trummer.
Victory in the LMP3 category went to the #23 United Autosports Ligier JS P320 driven by Manuel Maldonado, Rory Penttinen and Wayne Boyd. Second in class went to the #9 Nielsen Racing Ligier piloted by Tony Wells and Colin Noble while the podium positions in the LMp3 category were completed by the #3 United Autosports entry of James McGuire, Duncan Tappy and Andrew Bentley.
The GT class saw drama in the closing laps with a spin for the leader and the category win going to the #99 Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Pole-sitter John Falb in the #25 G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 led the record 36-car field away from the grid ahead of the sister #26 Aurus piloted by Rene Binder. With 27 Bronze category pilots on the circuit, there was concern that inexperience could see drivers tripping over each other.
Sean Galael in the #28 JOTA ORECA made a bold move on the first turn but out-braked himself and went off, the Malaysian recovering to second after ten laps, just over half a second behind Simon Trummer in the leading #5 Phoenix Racing entry.
There was drama after 12 laps when Gelael in the #28 JOTA car made contact with the leading #5 car, causing Trummer to spin with damage to his rear wing. As Trummer spun, he caught the rear of Gelael’s ORECA. Rene Binder in the #26 car assumed the lead as both Gelael and Trummer made their way to the pits for repair. The incident was investigated and the #28 car was served with a drive-through penalty as a result.
Austrian pilot Binder drove a controlled race at the front, handing over to 20-year-old Ye after 90 minutes. Despite his lack of experience in prototypes, Ye drove with confidence and by the time the #26 car headed in for its final driver change, held on to a lead of over 90 seconds from second-placed Galael. Habsburg then completed his stint with care to take the first victory of the 2021 Asian le Mans Series for G-Drive Racing.
United Autosports took a lights-to-flag victory with its #23 Ligier. Rory Penttinen took the opening stint before handing over to Manuel Maldonado, cousin of F1 driver Pastor Maldonado, who in turn passed the car over to 2020 European le Mans Series champion Wayne Boyd.
The competition was the remaining podium positions was intense with and it was the defending champions Nielsen Racing and its #9 Ligier that took second, finishing just under 44 seconds ahead of the sister #3 United Autosports entry of McGuire, Tappy and Bentley.
The GT class was set for an almost win for the #40 GPX Racing Porsche of Julien Andlauer, Axcil Jefferies and Alain Ferté after the 21-year-old French driver opened up a commanding lead in the opening laps over the #88 Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 piloted by Maxime Martin.
Jefferies consolidated the #40 Porsche’s lead in the mid portion of the four-hour contest before handing over to veteran French ace Ferté. A spin in the closing laps put paid to the team’s hopes for a class win and a post-race penalty relegated the #40 Porsche to a final finishing place of fourth.
The #99 Porsche went on to take the class win with the #7 Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3 finishing second.
Race two of the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series gets underway at 12:45 local time at the Dubai Autodrome.