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Asian Le Mans Series

Nielsen Sweeps Dubai Weekend; Rinaldi Wins Race 2 in GT

Ben Hanley, Matt Bell, Rodrigo Sales continue winning ways Sunday in Dubai…

Photo: Nielsen Racing

Nielsen Racing completed a sweep of the Asian Le Mans Series season-opening weekend at the Dubai Autodrome with another commanding run for Ben Hanley, Matt Bell and Rodrigo Sales.

Rinaldi Racing’s Davide Rigon, Rino Mastronardi and David Perel, meanwhile, picked up GT class honors following a late-race drive-through penalty for the No. 17 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo of Vincent Abril in Sunday evening’s four-hour contest.

Hanley took the No. 4 Oreca 07 Gibson to a one-lap victory over the LMP2 Pro-Am class-winning No. 49 High Class Racing Oreca of Dennis Andersen, Anders Fjordbach and Kevin Weeda.

It came after several long pit stops for the British-run Oreca, the first during Sales’ driver change to Bell while under the race’s first Full Course Yellow, which saw the car briefly lose the overall lead to a LMP3 car.

Bell then pitted again under the second FCY to replace the car’s left-side door, giving the overall lead to the No. 39 Graff Racing Oreca of Sebastien Page until the resumption of racing when the Englishman easily passed the LMP2 Pro-Am entry.

The Graff entry of Page, David Droux and Eric Trouillet completed the overall podium in third, with the No. 44 ARC Bratislava Ligier JS P217 Gibson finishing fourth after running as high as second overall at one stage in the hands of Neale Muston.

Nielsen Racing doubled up by taking LMP3 class honors with its No. 8 Ligier JS P320 Nissan driven by Colin Noble and Tony Wells. 

It came after issues struck the No. 2 DKR Engineering Duqueine D08 Nissan of Mathieu de Barbuat, which stopped on track with an unidentified issue in the final hour.

There was late-race drama for the Nielsen LMP3 entry as well, which was given a 10-second stop-and-hold penalty for insufficient pit time in the final 30 minutes.

The pair of CD Sport Ligiers completed the class podium, led by the No. 27 entry of Christophe Cresp, Antoine Doquin and Steven Palette.

Rinaldi Takes GT Win After Penalty for Abril

Abril lost the GT class lead in the final ten minutes after being handed a drive-through penalty for abusing track limits, giving Rigon and co-drivers Mastronardi and Perel the victory in their Ferrari.

The Monegasque driver emerged from his final pit stop just ahead of Rigon, resulting in a hard-fought battle between the two drivers for the better part of 30 minutes.

The penalty dropped Abril to third, with the Race 1 class-winning No. 7 Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3 coming home second in the hands of a hard-charging Ben Barnicoat. 

The sister Optimum Motorsport McLaren was fourth, brought to the line by Joe Osborne, with the No. 69 TF Sport-run Oman Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 completing the top-five in class.

Two additional four-hour races, to be held at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, will close out the season next weekend.

RESULTS: 4H Dubai (Race 2)

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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