Gustavo Menezes, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent put on a dominant performance to win Sunday’s Four Hours of Buriram.
This marks Jackie Chan DC Racing’s second win of the four-round season, and increases the team’s championship lead to 18 points with one round of the 2016-17 Asian Le Mans Series season remaining.
Tung increased his lead from pole position until the race’s only safety car period was called after 15 minutes, before continuing to expand the margin when the green flag flew ten minutes later.
The No. 35 Oreca 03R Nissan briefly lost the lead to the PRT Racing Ginetta LMP3 of Charlie Robertson for two laps while the LMP2 field completed its first pitstops, but Laurent, now in the car, was able to pass the slower LMP3 car to re-take the lead.
With Menezes taking over the controls later in the race, the DC Racing crew had a fairly uneventful four hours, despite a drive-through penalty for overtaking under the yellow flag.
Ultimately, the WEC LMP2 drivers’ champion took the car to the overall victory by a margin of 1 minute, 22 seconds.
“First of all, big thanks to Ho-Pin and Thomas who did a very good job, as well as the team,” Menezes commented. “We’ve been mostly at the top the whole weekend, and Ho-Pin and Thomas created a massive lead which helped considering the small mistake that caused a drive through which was a bit of a shame.
“At the end, the car was fantastic the whole weekend. The team guided me to the end. Shame that Algarve had the stop and go, as Pizzitola was driving very well.
“We had a small issue with the seat moving around, so I was a bit sore in the car. But got it home safe and got a lot of points so we can go into the last round leading the championship.”
The best of the rest was Algarve Pro Racing, with Andrea Pizzitola able to keep the No. 25 Ligier JS P2 Nissan in second to the line, ahead of Michael Munemann in the sister No. 24 Ligier JS P2 Judd.
Meanwhile, Fuji race winners Race Performance completed the overall top-four, finishing four laps down in the No. 8 Oreca 03R Judd. The Swiss team lost some time late in the race with a problem that forced the Oreca back into the garage momentarily.
In LMP3, ARC Bratislava secured a one-two finish with its pair of Ginetta LMP3s, with Mike Simpson finishing ahead of Neale Muston. Simpson shared the No. 4 car with Miro Konopka and Darren Burke.
Shaun Thong took the G-Print by Triple 1 Racing Ligier JS P3 Nissan to third in class, while early overall leaders PRT Racing could only manage fourth in the No. 67 Ginetta, which lost time after briefly stopping on track mid-race.
Championship leaders and pole-sitters Tockwith Motorsports had a race to forget, with the No. 26 Ligier in and out of the garage throughout the race. Nigel Moore and Philip Hanson finished seventh in class.
The GT class podium was entirely made up of Ferrari 488 GT3s, with the No. 5 car of DH Racing out front.
Stephane Lemeret, Michele Rugolo and Matthieu Vaxiviere took this car to fifth overall, behind the LMP2 field but several places ahead of the LMP3 leaders, in a last-lap pass on the sister car.
The second DH Racing Ferrari therefore assumed second position, while Team BBT completed the top-three.
The DH Racing cars were the dominant force in GT throughout most of the race, with most of the Ferraris showing strong pace. The highest-placed other manufacturer was BMW, with the No. 90 Team AAI BMW M6 GT3 finishing fourth with Tom Blomqvist at the wheel.
As far as the single-entry CN and GT Cup classes, the PS Racing Ligier JS 53 in CN stopped on track early in the race and only completed six laps, while Team NZ’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup finished 23rd overall.
RESULTS: 4H Buriram