Asian Le Mans Series

Derani / Spirit of Race Take Pole At Sepang. (23.02.19)

Tianshi Racing Team Fend Off Car Guy in GT Class

Pipo Derani, at the wheel of the #8 Spirit of Race Nissan-powered Ligier JS P2, took pole for the final round of the 2018/19 Asian Le Mans Series with a 1:55.167 in the closing minutes of the session, .203 seconds ahead of Phil Hanson piloting the championship-leading #22 United Autosports Ligier. Completing the top three in the LMP2 class was the #24 Algarve Pro Racing Judd-powered Ligier in which Andrea Pizzitola put in a 1:55.407.

Pipo Derani was delighted to have secured pole position after the team missed the previous round.

“It’s good to be back,” said Derani. “Unfortunately we had to miss the last round but we’re back, here in Malaysia, enjoying the weather. It’s hot out there and, yes, what a way to come back. The team has been working hard. Spirit of Race gave me a good car today and I managed to put it on pole at the end of qualy and we did it. I’m happy with that. It’s going to be a tough race because it’s really warm but a ghood way to start the weekend!”

In the LMP3 class, Viper Niza Racing took pole with its #65 Ligier JS P3 in which Nigel Moore lapped in 1:59.906. Wayne Boyd, at the wheel of the #2 United Autospors Ligier was second quickest with a 2:00.022. Third quickest in the LMP3 class was the #7 Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Racing Ligier, young Danish driver Christian Olsen putting in a 2:00.416.

“We’ve always shown that we’ve got a quick car,” said Nigel Moore. “The conditions out there weren’t what we expected during qualifying so we went for the second set of tyres and it was good enough for pole. The guys have done a mega job – this is their home track – so it’s nice to show we’ve got the pace.”

Photo: Audi Sport

In GT and GT Cup qualifying Dries Vanthoor, at the wheel of the #88 Tianshi Racing Team Audi RM LMS now modified with the 2019 evo kit, took pole position for 4 Hors of Sepang with 2:03.306, .207 seconds ahead of James Calado in the #11 Car Guy Racing Ferrari F488 GT3. A pole position for the #11 Ferrari would have secured the championship for the team who had taken wins in the first three races of the season and sit 24 points ahead in the lead of the championship.

“I missed in Buriram so it’s nice to come back like this,” said Vanthoor. “It’s still a long race tomorrow so anything can happen so it’s a good starting position for us. It will be a hot race so we will see how it goes.”

Taking third position on the grid for the GT class was the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari F488 GT3 driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi who out in a 2:03.650.

In its last qualifying session in a contemporary race series, the #5 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage was qualified by Ivor Dunbar but endured a frustrating afternoon having had to undergo an engine change over the course of the previous evening. Dunbar lapped the #5 Aston in 2:12.313.

The lights go out for the 4H of Sepang at 12:00 local time on Sunday February 24.