The 4 Hours of Sepang (Malaysia), the last round of the 2017-18 Asian Le Mans Series, is this Sunday, 4 February. Much is hanging on the result: not only the championship but also four invitations to race the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Everything to race for!
Jackie Chan DC Racing x Jota Sport has won every round this season. Thomas Laurent, Stéphane Richelmi and Harrison Newey in the #8 Oreca 05 - Nissan have won two races and lead the championship. The all-Malaysian crew of the #7 sister car – Jazeman Jaafar, Weiron Tan-Afiq and Ikhwan Yazid – won the last round, the 6 hours of Buriram, and will be on home turf in Sepang. The team’s most serious rival is BBT and the #37 Ligier JS P2 - Nissan of Anthony Liu, Davide Rizzo and Pipo Derani, who lie 18 points behind. The battle for the title will be between the #8 and the #37 but the #7 could upset the apple cart. As winner of LMP2 at last year’s Le Mans, Jackie Chan DC Racing already has an invitation to this year’s race. Eurasia Motorsport missed the last round but will be back with the Ligier JS P2-Nissan and Marco Asmer, Nabil Jeffri and Jake Parsons.
KCMG, the first Chinese team to win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (LMP2 in 2015) topped the LMP3 class in Buriram (#18 Ligier JS P3-Nissan of Josh Burdon, Louis Prette and Neric Wei). The team currently leads the championship. Hot on their heels are: Jackie Chan DC Racing X Jota Sport (#6), one point behind, Viper Niza Racing (#65) and Win Motorsport (#1).
In GT, with yet another triumph for FIST-Team AAI in Thailand, it’s difficult to see how the Taiwan-based team cold miss the top spot. The crews have been reshuffled for the last round. Two Thai drivers, Sarun Sereethoranakul and Pitti Bhirombhakdi, share the #90 Ferrari 488 GT3 with Ollie Millroy. Markus Palttala, winner of the 2015 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps joins Jesse Krohn and Junsan Chen in the #91 BMW M6 GT3. All the same, on paper, Tianshi Racing Team (#66 Audi R8 LMS) could catch up although they are trailing by 21 points. A win is worth 25 and pole position adds a bonus point. There’s still everything to race for!
Four precious tickets to Le Mans
The winners of LMP2 and LMP3 are automatically invited to take part in the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans in the LMP2 class. The first two in the GT championship enjoy the same privilege, earning a slot in the LMGTE Am class. The full list of competitors for the next edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be announced on 9 February.
Schedule for the 4 Hours of Sepang (local times)
08:40 – 10:10 Practice session 1
11:40 – 13:10 Practice session 2
17:00 – 17:15 LMP2 and LMP3 Qualifications
17:25 – 17:35 GT and GT Cup Qualifications
10:00 – 10:30 Pit walk/Autograph session
13:00 – 17:00 4 Hours of Sepang
Video: YouTube - Asian Le Mans Series
Cover photo (copyright Asian Le Mans Series) BBT’s #37 Ligier JS P2 is still in the running for the championship
Photos (copyright Asian Le Mans Series) The three leaders, in LMP2, LMP3 and GT.