Paul di Resta and Phil Hanson clinched the Asian Le Mans Series LMP2 title by finishing second in the final round of the season at Sepang International Circuit.
The United Autosports pair conceded victory in the four-hour race to the Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2 Judd of Andrea Pizzitola, Harrison Newey and Ate de Jong but wrapped up the title with an 18-point haul.
Di Resta and Hanson in the No. 22 Ligier-Nissan were denied a shot at victory when they received a 22-second stop and hold penalty in the final hour which set Newey on a clear course for the win.
The United pair comfortably led the opening stages before the ascendancy switched hands to Algarve Pro during a safety car period midway through the second hour.
Pizzitola emerged ahead of di Resta after a series of pit stops under the neutralization and went on to lead through the next stint.
A slow third-hour stop for United increased the Algarve Pro Ligier’s slim advantage to just over 20 seconds, before the penalty for a pit infringement dropped the title-winning car to a minute off the leader.
However, it didn’t knock Hanson and current DTM driver di Resta off the top spot in the standings, with the duo finishing 11 points ahead of Pizzitola and Newey in the final table.
The United crew maintained a 100% podium record this season, taking victory in the most recent race at Buriram and finishing second at Shanghai and Fuji.
Rounding out the podium was the Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier-Judd driven by Francois Heriau, Jean-Baptiste Lahaye and Matthieu Lahaye, a lap down on the leaders.
The pole-sitting Spirit of Race Ligier-Nissan endured a tough return after missing the previous round, with Pipo Derani losing his early lead via a drive-through penalty for jumping the start.
Derani’s co-driver Alexander West then brought out the first of two safety cars when he stopped on track with a suspected gearbox issue that put Spirit of Race out of contention.
The second safety car was triggered when the No. 66 Tianshi Racing Team Audi R8 LMS GT3 stopped on the circuit in the third hour.
Inter Europol, Car Guy Crowned Class Champions
Inter Europol Competition sealed the LMP3 class title with a second victory of the season for Jakub Smiechowski and Martin Hippe.
The Polish-run Ligier JS P3 Nissan finished a minute ahead of the best of the Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen Racing Ligiers driven at the end by Christian Olsen.
Smiechowski inherited the lead in the third hour when race leader Jim McGuire spun the championship-contending No. 2 United Autosports Ligier, paving the way for an Inter Europol triumph.
Meanwhile, Car Guy Racing was confirmed as the GT class champion with its fourth victory in the four 2018-19 season races.
Ferrari factory driver James Calado steered the Japanese squad’s 488 GT3 to victory after stints from Kei Cozzolino and Takeshi Kimura earlier on.
Tianshi Racing Team’s No. 88 Audi led the first half of the race but fell behind the Car Guy machine in the second hour before dropping out of the hunt late-on when Dries Vanthoor incurred a penalty for abusing track limits.
This saw the R8 slip to third but Vanthoor’s co-drive Chen Wei An was promoted to second when the Spirit of Race Ferrari ahead made a late pit stop.
LMP2 Am Trophy honors went to the ARC Bratislava crew of Darren Burke, Miro Konopka and Kang Ling who also sealed the class title and an automatic invitation to this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, along with the other category champions.
RESULTS: 4H Sepang