Late drama sees G-Drive Racing claim victory at The Bend
By Mat Coch
Sunday 12th January, 2020 - 5:55pm
G-Drive Racing by Algarve has won the inaugural Asian Le Mans Series race following a nerve-wracking finale to the 4 Hours of The Bend.
The No.26 Aurus 01 claimed victory from the No.36 Eurasia Motorsport entry after late dramas befell the team’s No.1 entry of Daniel Gaunt, Shane van Gisbergen, and Nick Cassidy.
The deciding moment proved to be a late Full Course Yellow after the No.16 BMW M6 GT3 left the road with little more than 20 minutes to run.
It allowed Roman Rusinov in the G-Drive entry to take the team’s final stop and emerge with a comfortable lead where he would have otherwise had Cassidy breathing down his neck.
When the race resumed drama hit Cassidy, the No.1 entry unable to get going and limped back into the pit lane where it was pushed into the garage.
Stan Sport is the only way to watch every round of Speedseries. Click here for all the action streaming ad-free, live and on demand.
That promoted what was the third place running No.36 entry to second and Thunderhead Carlin Racing, which had endured a challenging day following early contact, to third.
Gaunt started the race in the No.1 entry, taking the lead at the opening turn and heading the opening 11 laps.
Jack Manchester in the No.45 Thunderhead Carlin Racing ran second in the early stages before a mistake under braking saw him make contact with the No.77 GT Class Aston Martin.
It left the Dallara carrying damage, and saw it take a pit lane penalty for the error, with its tribulations ultimately dropping it off the lead lap.
Gaunt handed over to van Gisbergen for the middle stint, the Kiwi spending much of his time in the car chasing down the G-Drive Racing effort piloted by Leonard Hoongenboom.
However, the Dutch racer’s stellar middle stint put the Aurus 01 machine in the box seat, his squad commanding much of the final third of the race.
Hoongenboom saw off van Gisbergen before handing over to Ruminov for the run to the flag, and while Cassidy managed to chase down the Russian he was unable to find a way through.
Eurasia then rolled the dice on strategy in the final hour, taking its final stop early in an attempt to use Cassidy’s pace advantage in clean air to leapfrog Rusinov later in the race.
However, a late Full Course Yellow put paid to that, allowing G-Drive Racing by Algarve a cheap pit stop.
When the caution was withdrawn Cassidy failed to get going, limping back to the pits and into retirement.
Rusinov in the No.36 G-Drive Racing by Algarve entry therefore held on to a comfortable advantage over the No.36 Eurasia ‘Team Australia’ effort of Nick Foster, Roberto Mehri, and Aidan Read with Thunderhead Carlin Racing third with Ben Barnicoat, Harry Tincknell, and Manchester.
Rick Ware Racing claimed a one-two in LMP2 AM Class, leading the Arc Bratislava entry that featured Australian racer Garnet Patterson.
Nielsen Racing’s No.2 entry claimed the LMP3 class, benefitting from RLR MSPORT suffering a fire, pulling off the road at Turn 34 with 26 laps under its belt.
The GT Class proved to be a Ferrari benefit, with the first four positions in class filled by the Italian marque’s cars.
First to the flag was the No.7 Car Guy Ferrari 488 GT3, ahead of the No.27 HubAutoCorsa and No.51 Spirit of Race.
The third round of the 2019/20 Asian Le Mans Series heads to Sepang in Malysia on February 14-15.