Barrier repairs after a big crash for Formula Racing’s Johnny Laursen led to a red flag in the first of this weekend’s two Asian Le Mans Series races at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit just before the end of the first hour.
Laursen, piloting the No. 60 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020, was pitched hard into the guardrail on driver’s left near the entry to turn 1 after contact with a prototype, extensively damaging the car before coming to a rest on corner exit.
A safety car was immediately called, while Laursen walked away from the scene of the accident unassisted.
The impact also caused significant barrier damage, which led race director Eduardo Freitas to suspend the race.
Freitas told teams over the radio that the extent of the damage would lead to a very lengthy safety car period for repairs, which is why he opted for a red flag instead.
The overall race lead is held by the No. 23 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson driven by Yasser Shahin.
Shahin vaulted to the head of the field during a round of pitstops under an earlier Full Course Yellow, which was triggered by contact between two LMP3 runners.
The Australian only spent 42 seconds in the pits, while the rest of the LMP2 pack all took one of three mandatory 100-second stops. This allowed the Australian to assume the race lead.
The Charles Crews-driven No. 43 Inter Europol Competition Oreca sits in second position.
Crews became an early race leader in an intense opening lap of the contest, in which he first made slight contact with the No. 24 Nielsen Racing car of Rodrigo Sales out of the first corner that resulted in Sales spinning.
Both Crews and the No. 3 DKR Engineering Oreca of Salih Yoluc both then made their way past pole sitter Ahmad Al Harthy in the No. 98 99 Racing Oreca, before Crews successfully completed an overtake on Yoluc out of Turn 9 to capture the race lead.
Behind them, Paul di Resta had charged the No. 22 United Autosports Oreca from ninth to third on the first lap.
His charge to the front was interrupted by the race’s first safety car for a coming together between Kessel Racing’s Mikkel Jensen, Formula Racing’s Laursen and the No. 88 Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3 of Alexander West.
Once the race was resumed, Di Resta quickly overtook both Yoluc and Crews to take first place, before pitting under yellow to hand over to Bronze-rated Jim McGuire.
Algarve Pro Racing’s John Falb is third, ahead of Al Harthy and Yoluc, who was in the process of recovering from a drive through penalty for contact with an LMP3 car.
Torsten Kratz leads LMP3 from pole aboard the No. 11 WTM by Rinaldi Racing Duqueine D08 Nissan, ahead of the No. 17 Cool Racing Ligier JS P320 Nissan of Adrien Chila and Eric Trouillet aboard the No. 9 Graff Racing Ligier.
In GTE, Mikkel Jensen recovered from his opening lap skirmish to take the race lead after roughly half an hour in the No. 57 Ferrari.
The Danish ace passed pole sitter Liam Talbot’s No. 72 HubAuto Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.
Talbot then long held off a charging No. 33 Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R of Alfred Renauer before dropping to third, still ahead of the No. 34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 of Chandler Hull and the No. 20 Herberth Porsche of Niki Leutwiler.
Early incidents have taken out a number of GT cars. The No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari and No. 66 Bullitt Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 were eliminated in a clash on
The No. 88 Garage 59 McLaren, No. 99 Herberth Porsche and No. 6 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes have also fallen away.
The race will resume at 4.40 p.m. local time (7.40 a.m. ET).