The final round of the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series saw Kent-Based JOTA take back-to-back wins as the #28 ORECA piloted by Sean Gelael and Tom Blomqvist took the chequered flag lass than half a second ahead of the #25 G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 crewed by John Falb, Franco Colapinto and Rui Pinto de Andrade.
The final podium position in the LPM2 class was taken by the #5 Phoenix Racing ORECA driven by Matthias Kaiser, Simon Trummer and Kelvin van der Linde, which finished 23.234 seconds behind the #5 car.
In the LMP3 class it was a 1-2-3 for the United Autosports entries, the #23 Ligier driven by Manuel Maldonado, Rory Penttinen and Wayne Boyd taking its third victory of the series finishing just over four seconds ahead of the #3 entry.
The sister #2 car took its second podium of the series, finishing nearly 43 seconds behind the #3 entry.
Victory in the GT class went to the #57 Kessel Racing by Car Guy Ferrari F488 GT3, which finished a lap ahead of the #7 Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3, crewed by Brendan Iribe, Ollie Milroy and Ben Barnicoat.
The top three in class was completed by the #55 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari of Rino Mastronardi, David Perel and Davide Rigon.
Rene Binder in the #26 G-Drive Aurus 01 made a strong start from the sister #25 car of John Falb and streaked away in the lead. Sean Gelael in the #28 JOTA ORECA 07 made a great start, making it up to 4th from 6th on the first lap. Binder’s lead quickly evaporated with the deployment of the safety car after 5 and a half laps. At the restart of green flag racing, Binder pulled out an impressive lead again from Falb, closely followed by the #5 Phoenix Racing ORECA 07 of Matthias Kaiser in 3rd.
The safety car came back out for the second time within the first half hour for an incident involving two Ferrari 488 GT3s, causing the field to bunch back up. The #28 JOTA took the lead during the pit stops, followed by the #5, jumping ahead of both G-Drive cars. The biggest loser was the #26 car, which came out in fourth.
With three hours remaining, green flag racing resumed. With Franco Colapinto taking over the #25 car, he instantly got to work getting past Kaiser for 2nd.
At the half-way mark Rui Pinto de Andrade in the #25 car took advantage of a spin by Gelael, after the latter made contact with the #89 Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage of Michael Benham.
With little over 70 minutes remaining, the #28 car took the lead from the #25 G-Drive car. The #25 car was given a drive through penalty for speeding in the pits after a driver change, eventually dropping it back to 3rd behind Kelvin Van der Linder in the #5 car.
A shorter pit stop in the closing stages jumped the #25 car back up to second, about 15 seconds behind the 28. Colapinto put pressure on Gelael, closing the gap to be right under the #28 car’s rear wing on the penultimate lap, but it was not quite enough to take the win. The #5 Phoenix Racing car took third.
The #15 RLR M Sport Ligier was leading the class after the first hour with the #63 DKR Engineering Duqueine M30-D08 in second but by the time the four-hour contest had reached the half-way mark, the #23 United Autosports held the class lead with the #2 car in second.
There was disappointment for the #15 RLR M Sport entry which had to retire in the third hour with a broken exhaust.
With 60 minutes remaining, the United Autosports trio held the top thee positions in class which were never under threat as the race entered the final laps.
The GT class was full of incident with the #40 GPX Racing Porsche 911 RSR having to return to the pits to replace a door after contact early in the race. Contact also occurred between the #60 Formula Racing Ferrari of Johnny Laursen, Allessio Rovera and Nicklas Nielsen and the #27 Kessel Racing Ferrari.
There was a further safety car intervention, this time after an incident involving the paid of AF Corse Ferraris, the #54 and #51, resulting in an extended race neutralisation.
With the shortened Asian Le Mans Series completed, invitations to the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans will be extended to LMP2 series winners G-Drive Racing and LMP3 champions United Autosports (who receive an entry into the LMP2 class).
With four GT class entries available, invitations will be extended to Precote Herberth Motorsport, GPX Racing, Rinaldi Racing and Inception Racing.
The 2021 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is scheduled to take place on June 12 – 13.
The LMP2 report was written by Ollie Newman