Spirit of Race drivers Pipo Derani, Alexander West and Come Ledogar recovered from the back of the pack to win the Asian Le Mans Series opener in Shanghai.
Contact with Phil Hanson’s United Autosports Ligier JS P2 Nissan at the first corner sent pole-sitter West into a wild spin that dropped his No. 8 Ligier to the rear of the 27-car field.
However, the Spirit of Race crew recovered over the next four hours to take a comeback victory and claim an early lead in the 2018-19 championship points.
West’s rotation promoted Andrea Pizzitola to first in the Judd-powered Algarve Pro Racing Ligier, but the Frenchman was forced to retire in the opening hour after picking up a mechanical problem.
The Jackie Chan DC Racing X Jota Oreca 05 Nissan then assumed the front spot with Weiron Tan leading into the first round of pit stops from a pair of LMP3 cars.
But Tan, who was due to share the Oreca with FIA World Endurance Championship co-drivers Nabil Jeffri and Jazeman Jaafar, also exited the race prematurely when his car’s left-rear wheel came loose at the final corner.
By the halfway point, West and Ledogar had recovered Spirit of Race to third behind the two United Autosports Ligier-Nissans before Derani took the lead during the third-hour pit cycle.
The Brazilian pulled out a gap over Paul di Resta in the United car started by Hanson, ultimately taking the checkered flag 47 seconds ahead of the ex-Formula 1 driver.
Third place went to the sister United Autosports Ligier of Guy Cosmo, Patrick Byrne and Salih Yoluc, who also won the LMP2 Am Trophy sub-class, while Darren Burke, Kang Ling and Miro Konopka took fourth in the ARC Bratislava Ligier-Nissan.
In LMP3, Inter Europol Competition scored a victory on its Asian Le Mans Series debut with Jakub Smiechowski and Martin Hippe.
Hippe crossed the line almost a minute ahead of Chris Buncombe in the No. 2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 that was also driven by Garett Grist and Wayne Boyd.
Those two cars were the only LMP3 runners to finish on the lead lap, with Eurasia Motorsport’s Ligier rounding out the podium a lap down.
Calado Beats Pier Guidi in Ferrari 1-2
GT class honors went to CarGuy Racing as Ferrari customer squads finished first and second.
James Calado, Kei Cozzolino and Takeshi Kimura beat the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 of Alessandro Pier Guidi, Francesco Piovanetti and Oswaldo Negri Jr after a commanding second-half display.
The GT leaders were spaced out at the end with Calado finishing two minutes ahead of WEC GTE-Pro co-driver Pier Guidi, while the Red River by TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Johnny Mowlem and Bonamy Grimes finished a further lap down in third.
Tianshi Racing Team led early parts of Sunday’s contest with its No. 88 Audi R8 LMS GT3 but hemorrhaged time through a pit lane fire.
Dries Vanthoor, David Chen and Dennis Zhang were unclassified at the end, while Tianshi’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished fourth after arriving late on Saturday to replace the team’s No. 66 Audi that was heavily damaged in a practice fire.
Modena Motorsports’ Benny Simonsen and Phillipe Descombes won the Porsche Endurance Trophy for Carrera Cup Asia guest teams, meanwhile.
RESULT: 4H Shanghai