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In their debut in the Asian Le Mans Series, the all-Malaysian line up in the #7 Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport Oreca 05 Nissan has claimed a hard-fought victory in 6 Hours of Buriram.
This is the third round of the 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series was held on Children’s Day in Thailand, and the track was full of family’s keen to check out the excitement of the 6 Hours of Buriram.
An audience of close to 20,000 filled the grandstands, with approximately 200,000 family members filling the circuit precinct to celebrate Children’s Day. They were not disappointed by the on track action, with battles occurring up and down the field throughout the whole 6 hours.
As this race is a 6 Hour race, two hours longer than the standard Asian Le Mans Series race, the teams were permitted to use additional Michelin tyres – one extra set for prototype entries and two extra sets for the GT entries to allow for the extra two hours racing.
LMP1 – The Jota Show
Round 3 saw Jazeman Jaafar, Weiron Tan and Afiq Ikhwan Yazid debut in the Series with the support of the Sepang International Circuit. They were pushed hard throughout the whole race by their teammates in the #8 Oreca, before claiming the first ever all-Malaysian victory in the Asian Le Mans Series.
The race got off to a strong start for the pair of Jackie Chan DC Racing X JOTA Sport Oreca 05 Nissans with Stephane Richelmi in the #8 leading the way ahead of his Malaysian stablemate, Jazeman Jaafar in the #7. Behind them, the #37 BBT Ligier JS P2 was handed a 5 second penalty for a jump start – the time added to their first pit stop.
After 45 minutes the first pit stops commenced. Unfortunately, when Jaafar exited the pit lane he ran over a traffic cone. It got caught in the bodywork of the car, causing the engine and brake temperatures to increase so the team called him in and removed it.
He was not the only one to have an issue after the first stop, Konstantins Calko in the #4 ARC Bratislava #4 Ligier JS P2.
Half way through the third hour, the Bronze Cup leaders, the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan being driven by John Graham pits with a puncture.
In hour 4, the #8 was also issued a drive through penalty for a pit entry violation earlier in the race. This penalty gave the #7 the advantage, taking a 30 second lead into the 5th hour. Behind them, Derani in the #37 BBT Ligier was a man on a mission chasing down the leading pair.
The second FCY was called when the Algarve Pro Racing car with Ate Dirk De Jong behind the wheel went off at T7.
Both the #7 and #8 used this as an opportunity to pit while the field was going slowly. BBT also stopped, with Derani getting back into the Ligier.
The Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport confirmed that the #8 had been fighting a possible gearbox problem, specifically a gear shift issue, and the #6 had a power steering problem that they hoped they had rectified in their lengthy stop.
The final hour saw a hard charging Derani chasing the ailing #8 Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport. Unfortunately, he just did not have enough to close the gap. He was still able to finish the race in a comfortable 3rd place.
LMP3 – KCMG take second win of the season
In LMP3 it was pole sitter, the #18 KCMG Motorsport Ligier JS P3 with Louis Prette at the wheel that started to pull away. Behind Louis, LMP3 reigning Champion, Nigel Moore was fighting his way through the grid and had caught him.
An extra stop from the #18 saw it drop back, and the #6 Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport Ligier JSP3 with Guy Cosmo at the wheel, was able to capitalise and took the class lead. With the #65 still suffering from their own problems, Cosmo held a comfortable lead in Class. However, behind him the #11 Taiwan Beer GH Motorsport Ligier JS P3 of Ye Hong Li was on a charge – closing in on and passing Neric Wei in the KCMG Ligier JS P3. He then set his sights on Cosmo as hour 2 ended.
As the end of the 3rd hour approached, Japanese driver, Ye Hong Li in the #11 Taiwan Beer GH Motorsport Ligier JS P3 caught and passed the #6 to take the lead in the LMP3 class.
The lead was short lived, with Josh Burdon getting into the KCMG it began to fly, taking the lead in the class before coming in and handing the car to his team mate Louis Prette.
The #18 KCMG Ligier was able to pull away for the final two hours and finish with a comfortable lead.
GT – FIST AAI Extend Championship Lead
In GT, just as in qualifying, there was an intense battle between the pole sitting #90 FIST Team AAI Ferrari 488 GT3 with Ollie Millroy behind the wheel, and the #66 Audi Sport Customer Racing Asia by TSRT of Massimiliano Wiser. Early on it was the Audi holding the lead of under a second.
The #91 FIST Team AAI BMW M6 GT3 was holding third place with the team choosing to run their Bronze driver first, while the other cars had chosen to run their more experienced drivers.
At the start of the hour, there was drama as the Ferrari made contact with an LMP3 in traffic which caused a puncture in the Ferrari and resulted in a very slow lap back into the pits.
Race control called for a Full Course Yellow (FCY) period as a result of debris on the track and the Audi used this as an opportunity to pit for their first stop.
25 minutes into the 2nd hour, the Ferrari pits again after struggling with pace as a result of the earlier impact. It returns to the track, only to return to the pits and be wheeled back into the garage. It eventually returns to the track, but is 6 laps behind their sister car, the FIST Team AAI BMW.
With Chaz Mostert in the BMW, the team set about closing the gap that the leading Audi was able to pull out due to pitting under the FYC. Mostert made the pass an hour later.