Having the topped the time sheets in every session this weekend, OAK Racing Team Total continued its dominance in Sunday’s Asian Le Mans Series season-opener, by claiming a convincing victory in the Three Hours of Inje.
Ho-Pin Tung took the No. 1 Morgan-Judd across the line for the win, more than 10 laps ahead of the competition, following a late-race accident by the only other LMP2 car in the race.
While having started second on the grid, the No. 27 Euraisa Motorsport Oreca 03 Nissan of Richard Bradley stretched out into an early lead, expanding his gap over David Cheng to more than 1 minute.
However, it was all erased by the end of the first hour when the Englishman handed over to co-driver Tacksung Kim, who was unable to match the lap times of his teammate.
Cheng took over the lead on Lap 50 and opened up a sizable gap before handing over his Michelin-shod prototype to Tung at the halfway mark.
From there, it was clear sailing for the former open-wheel star, who was at times 10 to 15 seconds per lap quicker than Kim and his co-driver John Hartshorne, who handled the penultimate stint in the Oreca-Nissan.
While Bradley jumped back into the Eurasia entry with 30 minutes to go — albeit still more than eight laps behind the OAK entry — he suffered a sizable accident in Turn 2 that ended the team’s day just moments later.
It resulted in a dominant win for Tung and Cheng as the OAK duo kick off their title defense with a perfect weekend.
The No. 92 Team AAI BMW Z4 GT3 of Hanchen Chen, Ryohei Sakaguchi and Marco Seefried claimed GT class honors, and a second place overall finish, in what was a come-from-behind win for the trio.
All three of the Taiwanese entries led at one point, with the No. 90 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 of class pole-sitter Tsuchiya Takeshi holding off the sister No. 91 BMW until halfway through the second hour.
However, a slow pit stop saw the No. 91 car lose the lead shortly after, which gave way for Seefried to take control of the race in the closing stages, despite battling a loose pedal in the cockpit of his Z4.
The No. 90 Mercedes and No. 91 BMW were third and fourth overall and completed the podium in the GT class.
It was a mixed debut for the lone CN class car, as gearbox issues sent the No. 77 Craft-Bamboo Racing Ligier JS 53 Evo into the garage on two occasions. The Frank Yu, Kevin Tse and Mathias Beche-driven car, however, limped to the finish, completing 89 laps.
Five of the six cars that started the race were classified at the end, with the Eurasia Oreca-Nissan retiring after Bradley’s accident.
The Asian Le Mans Series regroups the second round of the season next month at Fuji Speedway.