Ben Barnicoat says Thunderhead Carlin Racing did ‘everything they could’ to beat G-Drive Racing By Algarve to the 2019-20 Asian Le Mans Series championship.
Carlin fell one point short of the LMP2 title despite winning Sunday’s 4 Hours of Buriram season finale, with G-Drive’s second-place finish enough for Roman Rusinov, James French and Leonard Hoogenboom to secure the title.
Barnicoat and Rusinov were embroiled in a fierce battle in the final hour and while the No. 45 Carlin Dallara P217 Gibson came out on top in the race it was not enough to stop the No. 26 G-Drive Aurus 01 Gibson from clinching the main prize.
“I have to say a big thanks to both my teammates, Harry and Jack did a great job; Jack nailed the start, Harry did what he could,” said Barnicoat.
“We were a bit unlucky with the Full Course Yellow in the middle but I went out with a mission and was able to hunt Roman down and get the win back.
“We did absolutely everything we could and just fell one-point shy of the championship; super happy that we won the race but gutted that we came so close.
“[I’m] still very happy. It was a great race and a great way to finish this championship and head into Europe.”
Jack Manchester said he was proud of Carlin’s expansion into the Asian Le Mans Series and that they have “come so far as a team” this season.
Carlin stepped up over the winter adding its Asia program to its existing European Le Mans Series effort, which Manchester believes will hold them in good stead for the upcoming season.
“This championship has been such a great place to learn and improve and hopefully we carry the momentum that we’ve taken here and take it into Europe,” Manchester said.
“We’re sorry we couldn’t get the championship but credit to G-Drive and Algarve, they did a great job all season and are deservedly champions.”
Rusinov: Fighting For Win Was Too Much Risk
Having claimed the title, G-Drive Racing By Algarve also picked up the much-prized entry invite into the LMP2 class for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
It’s the second auto-invite into Le Mans for G-Drive this year with its TDS-run car having picked up an invite courtesy of its second-place finish in last year’s European Le Mans Series season.
Rusinov said the top prize was on his mind throughout the weekend, including the late battle with Carlin over the race win.
“I think here it was quite important for us to finish second,” the Russian driver said.
“We arrived here and the most important was the championship and not the race win so I think we could easily fight for a race win but it was too much risk in the traffic.
“When I drove at the head [of the field] I had a really nice fight with Barnicoat from Carlin, it was really great, yeah but we had everything to lose and not much to gain.”