Paul di Resta and Phil Hanson took a big step towards the 2018-19 Asian Le Mans Series title with their first victory of the season in the Four Hours of Buriram.
The United Autosports pair arrived in Thailand with the championship lead and took full advantage of their main rivals Pipo Derani, Come Ledogar and Alexander West being absent.
Hanson took the lead in the first 10 minutes, overtaking Chris McMurry and Ate de Jong in the two Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2 Judds.
The 19-year-old Brit then drew out a big gap in the No. 22 Ligier JS P2 Nissan before handing over to ex-Formula 1 driver di Resta who consolidated the advantage.
Despite needing to come in for a late splash of fuel on the penultimate lap, Hanson still crossed the line with a full lap over the Algarve Pro car of de Jong, Andrea Pizzitola and pole-sitter Harrison Newey.
Pizzitola finished 10 seconds ahead of Matthieu Lahaye in the Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier-Nissan, while ARC Bratislava took LMP2 Am honors in fourth after both its rival entries hit trouble.
The Algarve Pro crew’s hopes of catching di Resta and Hanson were dashed by a third-hour spin for Pizzitola, who also took out the GT class-leading Car Guy Racing Ferrari 488 GT3.
Despite the contact, Car Guy went on to claim its third consecutive victory which puts it in prime position to clinch the title and secure an automatic invitation to this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
James Calado was also forced to serve a late drive-through penalty for breaching track limits at pit exit, but the reigning FIA World Endurance champion still held a 23-second gap over Jean-Karl Vernay in the No. 88 Tianshi Racing Team Audi R8 LMS GT3.
Calado, Kei Cozzolino and Takeshi Kimura now only need to finish the Four Hours of Sepang to win the GT class at the first attempt.
In LMP3, United Autosports doubled up with Garett Grist, Wayne Boyd and Chris Buncombe scoring their first win of the season in the No. 2 Ligier JS P3 Nissan
Buncombe saw the checkered flag 24 seconds ahead of Martin Hippe in the Inter Europol Competition Ligier that Jakub Smiechowski also drove.
Inter Europol’s podium means it continues to lead the LMP3 standings heading into the Malaysian season finale next month.
RESULTS: 4H Buriram