Nine cars started off the grid on Race 1 with the only non-starter being the #3 Eurasia Motorsport with drivers Douglas Khoo and Dominic Ang. The race got off to a clean start with the #27 Infinity Race Engineering ADESS 03 surging past pole-sitter, the #1 Win Motorsport Ligier JSP3 of Davide Rizzo and takes the lead going into Turn 1. The chase then began as the #1 Ligier JSP3 continually hounded the race leader throughout the entirety of Lap 1 before reclaiming P1 status on Turn 15. Similarly the #98 Arrows Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2 of Maxx Ebenal who placed 10th on the grid had a fantastic start and was up to fifth by the end of Lap 1.
Back up front, Rizzo in his #1 Win Motorsport Ligier JSP3 increased his lead further by 2.7 seconds on his second lap. Further down the grid, the #92 Team AAI BMW Z4 GT3 with Chi Huang at the helm was having problems with his machine having spurn out at Turn 14 on Lap 3 and ending up in the gravel at Turn 12 on Lap 5 with a blown engine. Unfortunately for Huang, he was forced to retire from Race 1 and hopefully will be able to take part in tomorrow’s Race 2.
By Lap 9, Rizzo had further increased his lead by 16 seconds over Winslow’s #27 ADESS 03 and continued to set faster sector times throughout further opening up the gap. Lap 11 saw the pit window open and the first to pit was the #93 Team AAI McLaren 650S GT3 of Terry Fang. With the grid systematically pitting in, this allowed the #59 Singha Plan B Motorsport Audi R8 LMS of Kantasak Kusiri to move up to third on Lap 13. At this point, the two race leaders, Rizzo and Winslow continued to stay out, up till Lap 15, where they both pitted in for a driver change.
For Win Motorsport, William Lok took over the reins of the #1 Ligier from Rizzo while Neale Muston replaces James Winslow in the #27 ADESS. However, as Lok pulled out of the pits to rejoin the race, Muston was delayed as his team’s pit crew found an issue with his rear right tyre and quickly tried to solve it. Even though he rejoined the race and kept his position, the gap between the lead car by now was far too great. A lap later the #59 Singha Plan B Motorsport Audi R8 LMS pitted in as well for a driver swop to Bhurit Bhirombhakdi.
Lap 17 saw the #27 Infinity Race Engineering ADESS 03 in trouble again as Muston spins out between Turn 2 to Turn 3 though he recovers quickly to maintain his position yet again. By this time the #1 Win Motorsport Ligier was so far ahead, on Lap 19, Lok had increased the gap to a staggering 55 seconds. Then on Lap 21, the #99 TKS Ginetta LMP3 of Sano passes the #59 Audi R8 LMS GT3 for the final spot on the podium. The standings remained that way right up till the chequered flag.
Win Motorsport and its drivers, William Lok and Davide Rizzo have emerged victorious in the season opener of the 2017 Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup here at the Sepang International Circuit. This would also be the duo’s first ever outing as a new team as well, as they took their #1 Ligier JSP3 to a well deserved win.
Coming in second overall was the #27 Infinity Race Engineering ADESS 03 of Neale Muston, who despite a valiant effort by James Winslow early on, had to contend with back markers and a problem with his rear right tyre that delayed his pit stop significantly. In third was the #99 TKS Ginetta LMP3 driven by Shinyo Sano.
The GT3 class win was taken by the #59 Singha Plan B Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Bhurit Bhirombhakdi and Kantasak Kushiri who also came in fourth overall. Second and third in class went to the #98 Arrows Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2 of Michael Choi and Maxx Ebenal and the #93 Team AAI McLaren 650S GT3 of Jun San Chen and Terry Fang. GT Cup class saw the #77 Team NZ Porsche 997 driven by Graeme Dowsett and John Curran take the win, while the #15 PAS Macau Racing Porsche 997 with Eurico de Jesus and Wong Kian Kuan placing second.
Davide Rizzo, #1 Win Motorsport Ligier JSP3, LMP3 First Place
“It was a perfect day and we finished in first position. The start was good, we had a bit of a moment with the other LMP3, which was good as well, so I just had to bring the car back and William did a perfect job. We were always focused and there’s where we are.”
William Lok, #1 Win Motorsport Ligier JSP3, LMP3 First Place
“Davide had a very solid stint, he just gave me the car, I jumped in and pushed it to my best. Lap time may have been better but I guess the tyres were wearing off and I had to be a little safer as I was pushing it too much. Its the first race of the season and my physical fitness isn’t that good yet, so I am very happy and would like to congratulate James and Sano. What can I say, its our first time, first race, first pole and first win for Win Motorsport Hong Kong, thank you very much!”
Neale Muston, #27 Infinity Race Engineering ADESS 03, LMP3 Second Place
“First of all a thank you to our race team, Infinity, they did a tremendous effort, congratulations to our other competitors, fantastic win to Davide and William, it was very good competition and unfortunately we couldn’t be a little bit more competitive. We didn’t have the best preparation and had a little bit of car trouble but we started getting on the pace at the end so hopefully we can come out tomorrow and be a little bit more competitive and hopefully give these boys more of a challenge.”
James Winslow, #27 Infinity Race Engineering ADESS 03, LMP3 Second Place
“We made a good start, tried to have a little bit of fun with it at the first corner with Davide, I had this feeling he was going to take me in the race so i thought I would claim one victory and take the first corner. Big thank you to Infinity who helped develop the ADESS’ chassis, we will keep working on it and get closer and closer to Win. Congratulations to William and Davide on their win and for their new team, a big thanks to Neale who did very well as well.”
Shinyo Sano, #99 TKS Ginetta LMP3, LMP3 Third Place
“I would like to thank my team and family, this is my first time in an LMP3 car, the race was really very hot and pretty tough as I am the only driver. It was a very good experience and completing it makes me very happy, thank you!”
Bhurit Bhirombhakdi, #59 Singha Plan B Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3, GT3 First Place
“First of all I would like to thank our sponsor, Singha Plan B Motorsport and Absolute that made us the perfect car. It was very easy to drive and it was a fantastic weekend for me. I am very happy and thank you for having us.”
Kantasak Kusiri, #59 Singha Plan B Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3, GT3 First Place
“Today I had a good start and in the first corner I tried to save my position and the only thing I need is to be faster in the driver changing. It was great for me!”
Graeme Dowsett, #77 Team NZ Porsche 997 GT3Cup, GTCup First Place
“Thank you to Asian Le Mans and the ACO, its great to be back. Today’s race was good for us, the other cup car Porsche was stuck to us for the first quarter of the race and we managed to pull out a little bit but it was great to have them racing with us and congrats to them as well.”
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of 2017 Asian Le Mans Endurance Management Ltd.