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CrowdStrike Racing by APR Wins to move into LMP2 Championship Lead at Yas Marina in incident-filled 4 Hours of Abu Dhabi

(Photos: Ian Chicken)

Malthe Jakobsen, driving the #4 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA he shared with George Kurtz and Colin Braun, took the chequered flag to win the Round 4 of the 2023/24 Asian Le Mans Series at Yas Marina Circuit, the #4 car crossing the line 5.066 seconds ahead of Mathieu Vaxiviere in the #83 AF Corse entry.

Completing the overall podium positions was the #3 DKR Engineering ORECA driven by Alexander Mattschull, Tom Dillman and, driving the final stint, Laurents Hörr.

The LMP3 class saw victory go to the #2 CD Sport Ligier JS P320 of Michael Jensen, Nick Adcock and Fabien Lavergne, the latter taking the chequered flag. One lap back was Manual Espirito Santo in the #17 Cool Racing entry he shared with James Winslow and Alex Bukhantsov. In third was the #20 High Class Racing entry of Audunn Gudmundsson, Anders Fjordbach and Seth Lucas.

Victory in the GT category went to the #88 Triple Eight Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Jordan Love driving the final stint in the car he shared with Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahim and Luca Stolz. In second place was the #19 Liepert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan of Gabriel Rindone, Brendon Leitch and Marco Mapelli with the #27 Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 taking third.

(Photo: Ian Chicken)

There was drama in the opening minutes of the four-hour contest following a spin by the championship-leading 99 Racing entry driven by Ahmad Al Harthy after contact with Salih Yoluc in the #90 TF Sport car. Al Harthy dropped to the back of the field and Yoluc received a drive-through penalty for the incident.

The safety car was called on following contact between the #99 car and the #91 Pure Rxcing Porsche driven by Alex Malykhin. Both cars were out of the race following the incident.

The incident that had the biggest effect on the race was one between the #95 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 and the #86 GR Racing Ferrari 296 GT3. Thankfully both drivers escaped unscathed but major damage repairs to the barrier meant that the race was red-flagged for over 30 minutes.

The final hour begun with the race neutralised after a red flag following the incident involving the #99 and #91 cars.

With 34 minutes left on the clock, the grid set off behind the safety car, Alessio Rovera leading the field in the #83 AF Corse car followed by René Binder in the #22 Proton Competition entry. With the #4 CrowdStrike Racing by APR completing the top three, it looked as if all the top three runners would have to pit before the end, leaving the #30 Duqueine Team car as the only entry that could potentially go to the end without stopping.

(Photo: Ian Chicken)

In a move that surprised the whole field, the #4 CrowdStrike car headed for the pits as the safety car was circulating the safety car period for a brief splash-and-dash. Racing resumed with 26 minutes remaining with Rovera backing the field up and then sprinting away to pull out an advantage of over a second ahead of Binder in the #22 car. Rovera and Binder headed for the pits with 23 minutes remaining with Mathieu Vaxiviere taking over the #83 car and rejoining behind Jakobsen in the CrowdStrike car who now took the lead.

Jakobsen extended his advantage to over eight seconds from Vaxiviere with the closest battle on track now being for third as Charlie Eastwood in the #90 TF Sport entry chased Jean Baptiste Simmenauer in the #30 Duqeuine entry. Eastwood closed the gap and tried to pass out the outside of T9.

With 17 minutes remaining Vaxiviere was closing the gap to Jakobsen for the lead and was down to less than seven seconds after 94 laps. Jakobsen increased his pace and extended his lead again to over 11 seconds as the race approached its final ten minutes.

Eastwood and Hörr passed Simmenaur with eight minutes remaining and immediately started moving away from the #30 car. Horr in the #3 car passed Eastwood for third as Simmenauer spun.

(Photo: Ian Chicken)

As the chequered flag fell, Jakobsen held on to his lead to win by just over five seconds with Vaxiviere and Hörr taking the remaining overall podium positions.

The championship standings after Race Four sees CrowdStrike Racing’s Colin Braun, George Kurtz and Malthe Jakobsen move into the lead of the LMP2 Drivers Trophy on 73 points, four points ahead of 99 Racing’s Ahmad Al Harthy and Louis Deletraz. Nikita Mazepin, not racing this weekend due to ill health, moves to third in the standings on 68 points.

The final race of the 2023/24 Asian Le Mans Series gets underway at Yas Marina Circuit at 1600 local time (1200 BST) on Sunday February 11th.