Crowdstrike by APR drivers Malthe Jakobsen, Colin Braun and George Kurtz capitalized on a nightmare weekend for pre-event LMP2 points leaders 99 Racing at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit, taking victory in the opener with canny pitstop timing before securing the title with fifth in the second race won by their stablemates Toby Sowery, Freddie Tomlinson and Chris McMurry.
Jakobsen, Braun and Kurtz’s victory in the opener had seemed improbable when Kurtz spun on the exit of the hotel complex and lost a huge amount of time getting the car pointed in the right direction through traffic.
The car had got back to third before red flags flew for a crash involving Ben Tuck’s TF Sport Aston Martin and Riccardo Pera’s GR Ferrari. Pitting under the safety car meant it could take on a shorter fill at its final stop immediately as the race resumed, vaulting Jakobsen ahead of the AF Corse machine of Matthieu Vaxiviere, Alessio Rovera and Francois Perrodo.
Meanwhile, the 99 car in which Filipe Albuquerque replaced an unwell Nikita Mazepin had retired after poleman Ahmad Al Harthy rear-ended Alex Malykhin’s Pure Rxcing Porsche under the safety car.
The damage was enough to require a new tub to be prepared for race two, but despite once more starting from pole the ORECA also driven by Louis Deletraz was never in contention due to gearbox problems and finished two laps down in 11th.
Race 1 start
Photo by: Asian Le Mans Series
The 99 team’s plight meant that Crowdstrike by APR’s eventful second race didn’t prove too costly. Kurtz had tangled with Perrodo at the start when Paul-Loup Chatin appeared on his inside at Turn 2, causing a puncture that put the AF car an eventual four laps down.
After being issued a drive-through for his touch on Kurtz, Alpine Hypercar racer Chatin was later in the wars with the EBM Porsche of Setiawan Santoso, their high-speed impact at Turn 11 triggering a red flag just as McMurry’s APR ORECA pitted from the lead.
That meant it could complete the restarted race in only two more stops.
Jakobsen was set for a podium until he was forced to pit for a late splash-and-dash, but a swap of post-race penalties including for the Nielsen Racing ORECA of Ferdinand HabsburgAlex Garcia and Ian Loggie who finished second on the road but was given a drive time infringement, lifted it back to fifth.
After the disappointment of having his first race curtailed by the contact from Al Harthy, Malykhin, Joel Sturm and Klaus Bachler secured the Le Mans auto-invite afforded to the GT championship-winning outfit by taking second in race two.
#91 Pure Rxcing Porsche 911 GT3 R: Alex Malykhin, Klaus Bachler, Joel Sturm
Photo by: Asian Le Mans Series
Triple Eight’s Mercedes driven by Luca StolzJordan Love and Prince Jefri Ibrahim claimed both wins, inheriting the second after a stint length penalty denied Leipert’s Lamborghini of Brendon Leitch, Marco Mapelli and Gabriel Rindone.
The LMP3 championship was also decided in Abu Dhabi, although no Le Mans invitation for the champion was awarded this year.
The CD Sport Ligier of Michael Jensen, Nick Adcock and Fabien Lavergne won the opener to set up a winner-takes-all showdown with Cool Racing title rivals James Winslow and Alexander Bukhantsov, who were sharing with Manuel Espirito Santo.
But when Lavergne passed High Class Racing’s Seth Lucas off the track, moments after being spun by the American, he earned a penalty that dropped him behind the title-winning Cool example that finished second in class.
Victory in race two went to the Bretton Racing Ligier of Dan Skocdopole, Julien Gerbi and Ioan Mihnea Stefan.