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Asian Le Mans Series

DKR Wins Title With Victory in Abu Dhabi Season Finale

Eastwood, Guven, Yoluc claim LMP2 title with victory in second four-hour race in Abu Dhabi…

Photo: Asian Le Mans Series

The DKR Engineering crew of Charlie Eastwood, Ayhancan Guven and Salih Yoluc clinched the Asian Le Mans Series LMP2 title by winning the final race of the season at Yas Marina Circuit.

Late-race dramas for Inter Europol Competition and Cool Racing paved the way for the Luxembourg-based DKR team to claim its first-ever LMP2 race victory and secure the championship to bank an invitation for the centennial 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Eastwood took the checkered flag 1.9 seconds ahead of Neel Jani in the 99 Racing Oreca 07 Gibson that was also driven by Nikita Mazepin and pole-sitter Ahmad Al Harthy.

DKR unexpectedly moved to the head of the field with 15 minutes to go when Inter Europol’s Oreca slowed with a suspected gearbox issue, and Cool picked up a stop-go penalty for undercutting the minimum time at one of its mandatory 100-second pit stops.

When running third, Eastwood was already in a title-winning position although an overtake from Jani would have upturned the championship situation, meaning that the Inter Europol and Cool Racing dramas significantly eased the pressure on DKR.

The Cool pairing of Malthe Jakobsen and Alexandre Coigny ended up third in the race and second in the points after their car’s late penalty.

Algarve Pro Racing took fourth, ahead of the two United Autosports Orecas.

The No. 22 United car led the opening hour as Peugeot LMH ace Paul Di Resta made light work of the Bronze-rated drivers who started the other cars.

Di Resta developed a lead of around 40 seconds over Inter Europol driver Christian Bogle, with Al Harthy running third and Yoluc fourth.

Momentum then swung in the direction of the No. 43 Inter Europol Oreca as Charles Crews overtook Di Resta’s co-driver Jim McGuire at the final corner in hour two.

Midway through that hour, the race was interrupted by its only Full Course Yellow period after Belen Garcia spun at Turn 9 and clattered into a fellow LMP3 competitor.

Crews remained in the overall lead after the FCY and its associated round of pit stops, with Mazepin only six seconds behind and Guven nearby in third.

Mazepin stood on the brakes to get past Crews into the Turn 5 hairpin before establishing a 16-second advantage at the head of the field, while Guven moved up to second.

However, Inter Europol returned to the front when Nolan Siegel swapped in for Crews, as the American open-wheel prospect got past Mazepin on the long back straight despite an aggressive defense from the ex-Formula 1 driver.

Inter Europol retained the lead after its final pit stop, while Cool jumped ahead of DKR which then vaulted to the lead when the cars in front of it encountered their issues.

Graff Racing provisionally beat MV2S Racing to the LMP3 class title on countback after the two teams ended the four-race season on equal points.

MV2S was on course for the championship until one and a half minutes to go, when Cool Racing driver Marcos Siebert overtook Jerome de Sadeleer.

That put MV2S and the race-winning Graff crew of Xavier Lloveras, Fabrice Rossello and Francois Heriau on 73 points each, however the title went in Graff’s direction because its No. 8 Ligier achieved more second places than the MV2S Ligier over the season.

Walkenhorst Clinches GT3 Title With BMW

Nicky Catsburg, Chandler Hull and Thomas Merrill claimed the GT3 crown for BMW team Walkenhorst Motorsport, which completed a 100 percent podium record for the season by finishing second.

Catsburg initially looked to have snatched the race victory when Haupt Racing Team’s No. 7 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo came in for a late fuel-only pit stop, however the Walkenhorst BMW M4 GT3 was also due a splash.

When Catsburg came in for his car’s rapid service, HRT’s Luca Stolz continued on to take the win alongside Al Faisal Al Zubair and Martin Konrad.

It wasn’t enough for HRT to capture the title, however, as Walkenhorst already had a healthy lead following a sweep of last weekend’s Dubai Autodrome races.

Mercedes-AMG teams GetSpeed Performance and HubAuto Racing finished third and fourth, with Lamborghini squad Leipert Motorsport completing the top five.

RESULTS: Abu Dhabi Race 2

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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