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Asian Le Mans Series

Matsuda, KCMG Takes Pole in Sepang

Tsugio Matsuda claims pole in Asian Le Mans Series debut in Sepang…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

KCMG denied OAK Racing a clean sweep of pole positions in the Asian Le Mans Series Saturday, as Tsugio Matsuda took his Morgan-Nissan to the top spot for tomorrow’s season-ending Three Hours of Sepang.

The Japanese Super GT ace reeled off a best lap of 1:57.579 late in the 30-minute combined Prototype/GT qualifying session, edging out the No. 24 OAK Racing Morgan-Judd of Ho-Pin Tung by 0.285 seconds.

It marked KCMG’s first pole of the year as the Hong Kong-based squad and Matsuda’s co-driver, James Winslow, seek the LMP2 championship on Sunday.

“Full credit to my teammate here, Matsuda-san, who did a fantastic job to put the car on pole,” Winslow said. “We worked with the engineer through the weekend and improved the car a lot to get into the position we are now.

“It’s a big relief that we’re at the front and will start the final race of the Asian Le Mans Series battling for the championship from the pole position.”

With the extra point for winning pole, Winslow now holds a five-point margin over OAK Racing Team TOTAL’s David Cheng, who will roll off second on the grid thanks to Tung’s qualifying effort.

Richard Bradley qualified the No. 27 Craft Racing Oreca 03 Nissan in third with a 1:57.927 lap time. The Englishman will share the wheel with Chinese driver Jun Jin Pu and Irishman Dan Polley.

Owing to the competitiveness of the class, the top-three in LMp2 were separated by less than four-tenths of a second.

Pole in GTC went to Clearwater Racing’s Toni Vilander, who peddled the No. 33 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 to a quick lap of 2:05.572.

The Ferrari factory driver narrowly outran the pair of Craft Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3s, which were second and third in qualifying with drivers Tomonobu Fujii and AMR factory driver Stefan Muecke, respectively.

“The conditions were a little bit tricky. We weren’t sure if was going to rain or not,” said Vilander, who will team with co-driver Weng Sun Mok. “I was actually the first car out there. I didn’t really find exactly the same grip level as in practice but we managed to get the pole.

“The competition is quite tight between us an Aston Martin so I think it will be an interesting race tomorrow.”

Team Taisan Ken Endless took its fourth consecutive GTE pole, despite having competition for the first time this season, while the No. 69 Team Primemantle Aylezo Lamborghini Gallardo claimed pole in GTC-Am.

The Three Hours of Sepang gets underway Sunday at 3 p.m. local (2 a.m. ET).

RESULTS: Qualifying

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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