The day began under a cloud of fog, with doubt hanging over the early start time of 09:30. Luckily, the fog lifted and the sun came out just as the pits opened and teams made their way to the grid.
Guy Cosmo, Patrick Byrne and Salih Yoluc stood on the podium twice as they finished third overall and first in the LMP2 Pro Am class after suffering from a puncture as Guy just began his stint half way through the race. Patrick started the race from fifth in the #23 Ligier JS P2 and made a good start to be running third for the early part of the race. Salih took over into the second hour and ran second overall for a large part of his drive, pitting to Guy who held his position until the puncture. Guy held on until the end, bringing the Ligier home for the class win.
Phil Hanson and Paul Di Resta finished second after battling for the win for the majority of the race. Phil qualified the #22 Ligier JS P2 on Saturday, putting the car on the second row of the grid, in third place. Phil had a difficult start to the race after contact with another car knocked him down the order. Ultimately, he fought back through the field and pitted, handing the car over to Paul in the lead of the race. Unfortunately, both safety car periods affected the team’s strategy meaning they had to settle for second place.
In the LMP3 team, Garett Grist, Wayne Boyd and Chris Buncombe finished second in the #2 Ligier JS P3, completing United Autosports’ podium line up. Garett started the race, after Wayne’s qualifying lap put them third on the grid. A good start for Garett saw him maintain his position – both LMP3 cars running at the front of the field for the opening stint. At the first pit stop, Garett handed the car over to Wayne, who moved up into the lead, following a battle with Colin Noble in the Nielsen Racing Ligier. Chris took over the #2 Ligier for his first race stint in an LMP3 car, but a badly timed safety car caused them to drop a place as Chris completed his stint.
Kay van Berlo was making his Asian Le Mans Series and United Autosports debut this weekend, racing alongside team regulars Matt Bell and Jim McGuire. Matt qualified the #3 Ligier JS P3 fourth on Saturday, starting the race alongside team mate Garett Grist. Matt made a great start and was leading the LMP3 class, while also running in the top three during the majority of his stint. He handed the car over to Jim, who had been suffering from food poisoning overnight, for the middle stint. Unfortunately, the safety car also caught them out, dropping them a lap down during Jim’s stint. Kay got in the Ligier for his first laps as a United driver, and did his best to recover the lost time, but ultimately finished seventh after showing great speed in his first Asian race.
The series now moves onto Fuji in Japan in two weeks, with the race being held on Sunday 9th December.
“I’m feeling pretty good right now. It was a great effort by the whole team. We had a bit of an issue when the weekend began and we were scratching our heads. But the strength of United Autosports really shone, because they really dug deep to find the issue with the car. To come away with a win in our class and third overall is exactly what we were hoping for. It’s encouraging to say we will be going into the remainder of the championship looking stronger.”
“What a fantastic result – a win in class and third overall. You’ve got to love that! I’m really happy with the team. We were tight on fuel but everyone did a fantastic job and it’s no surprise United did that. It’s also no surprise that my team mates are driving the best they can too. Bring on Fuji.”
“At the beginning of the race we had a mixed start. The race was interesting with the safety cars. We managed our pace well and we got a podium overall too, which I think it the most impressive part of the result. I’m really looking forward to Fuji, I love the track and raced there only a few months ago.”