CrowdStrike Racing by APR trio George Kurtz, Colin Braun and Malthe Jakobsen won the Asian Le Mans Series LMP2 title as the sister Algarve Pro Racing car won Sunday’s finale in Abu Dhabi.
Three points clear in the standings heading into the race, seventh was enough for the occupants of the No. 4 Oreca 07 Gibson to be crowned champions with their nearest rivals at 99 Racing failing to score, earning an automatic invitation to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the process.
On a banner day for APR, it was a straightforward win for the No. 25 APR car of Chris McMurry, Freddie Tomlinson and Toby Sowery, who were able to gain a major advantage over the field by virtue of being on pit lane when the race was red-flagged.
The stoppage, the second in as many races in Abu Dhabi, was triggered by a high-speed tangle involving the No. 55 Proton Competition Oreca of Paul-Loup Chatin and the No. 8 EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R of Setiawan Santoso at Turn 11.
When the race finally resumed after a delay of just over an hour, Tomlinson sat pretty at the head of the field with a full tank of fuel, having taken over from McMurry at the time of the red flags.
By contrast, almost the entire LMP2 field pitted immediately after the restart to swap out their Bronze-rated drivers, gifting Tomlinson a 75-second lead that he and Sowery were able to manage to the finish.
The No. 4 CrowdStrike car had a much more eventful start to the race as Kurtz was tipped into a spin by Chatin’s Proton car at Turn 1, with another of the LMP2 title contenders, the No. 83 AF Corse car, also sustaining a puncture in the incident that dropped it out of contention.
Kurtz was lucky to survive with no damage, and the car started ascending the order once Braun took over immediately after the red flag period.
Braun had managed to get back into the top five by the time he handed over to Jakobsen, who looked on course for fourth until he had to splash for fuel with two laps to go, dropping down to seventh – enough to win the title by seven points with 99 Racing not scoring.
Rebuilt around a new chassis after Ahmad Al Harthy’s incident in Saturday’s first race, the No. 99 Oreca the Omani driver shared with Louis Deletraz and Filipe Albuquerque never looked like a competitive proposition and finished a distant 11th, three laps down.
The remaining LMP2 car that went into the finale with title aspirations, the No. 3 DKR Engineering car was on course for second until Laurents Hoerr picked up a drive-through penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage after a lock-up.
That handed second to the No. 24 Nielsen Racing car of Ferdinand Habsburg, Alex Garcia and Ian Loggie, while completing the podium was the No. 22 Proton machine of Giorgio Roda, Rene Binder and Julien Andlauer.
Class Titles Go to Cool Racing, Pure Rxcing
In LMP3, Cool Racing won the title with a second-place finish in a dramatic conclusion to the team’s battle with CD Sport.
The two squads had gone into the finale level on points, and were circulating just seconds apart on track in the battle for second in the final hour of the race.
Fabien Lavergne lost ground in the No. 2 Ligier JS P320 Nissan when he was tipped into a spin by Seth Lucas’ No. 20 High Class Racing car, bringing the No. 17 Cool Racing entry of Manuel Espirito Santo into the picture.
But Lavergne earned a costly drive-through penalty for subsequently passing Lucas off the track, allowing Santo into second place and handing Cool drivers Santo, James Winslow and Alexander Bukhantsov the title by three points.
Victory went to Bretton Racing drivers Dan Skocdopole, Julien Gerbi and Mihnea Stefan, who also gained significant time by clearing a pitstop while the race was red-flagged.
Pure Rxcing drivers Alex Malykhin, Joel Sturm and Klaus Bachler clinched GT title honors with a third-place finish in the No. 91 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Victory went to the Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 of Gabriel Rindone, Brendon Leitch and Marco Mapelli, who were one of only a handful of GT crews to avoid a drive-through penalty for a pit exit infringement.
Among the cars affected were the Pure Rxcing Porsche, which had been delayed by being tipped into a spin by the No. 75 Motopark Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, and the No. 88 Triple Eight JMR which went into the finale nine points behind.
After serving the penalty, Triple Eight trio Luca Stolz, Jordan Love and Prince Jefri Ibrahim dropped to third, moving up second after the final round of stops, but with the No. 91 Porsche recovering to third, it was the Lithuanian squad that won the title by six points, also sealing an auto-invite for Le Mans.
The pole-sitting No. 9 GetSpeed Mercedes car was eliminated in a first-corner tangle with the GG Classic Cars LMP3 car.
Meanwhile, the sister No. 7 AlManar Racing by GetSpeed entry that had been an outside title bet lost significant ground behind the safety car as Anthony Liu failed to take his pass around properly behind the safety car, finishing eighth.
REUSLTS: 4 Hours of Abu Dhabi