With an outside bet at the overall championship honours, Algarve Pro arrived in Sepang, Malaysia for the season finale of the 2016/17 Asian Le Mans Series in a bullish frame of mind. Having claimed the pole position, the team today (22 January, 2017) scored a dominant victory and with it, the championship win and automatic Le Mans 24H entry.
“We’re completely ecstatic,” stated Team Manager Samantha Cox. “We knew we had to take the win and that was always the objective. It was perhaps a bit of good fortune that we didn’t make the best start from the pole, and with the Eurasia and Race Performance cars colliding, this gave us the perfect opportunity and we took it.
“To win this title and to get an automatic entry to Le Mans is fantastic. Last year we were on the reserve list and we didn’t get the go-ahead until the 23rd of March and then it was all a bit of a rush. With this, we can plan and prepare in a better way. This really is a big prize.”
The team fielded two cars as ever, with star Aidan Read joining Andrea Pizzitola and Andrea Roda in the #25 Ligier JSP2 Nissan. Practice saw the team on the pace from the outset with Pizzitola putting in a sensational final lap in qualifying to claim the pole position by 0.008s.
Starting from pole, Roda took the first stint and start. Heading to turn one, the #35 Eurasia and #8 Race Performance cars made a better getaway but clashed into the corner. Roda took avoiding action and in doing so fell down the order.
Roda worked his way back up the order to run a close second behind teammate Mark Patterson in the #24 Ligier before pitting just before the one hour mark. Roda pushed on, taking the lead and extending that to 15 seconds before ending his double-stint and handed over to Read.
Read continue to extend the gap at the front of the field during his time behind the wheel, driving to set times and ensuring that the team were in the perfect position to conclude the race with Pizzitola.
The #24 Ligier featured an unchanged line-up of Michael Munemann, Tacksung Kim and Mark Patterson and with incidents on the first lap, vaulted from fourth position on the grid with Patterson at the wheel to lead the opening stages of the race.
With the championship firmly in mind, the sister #25 car took the lead in the first hour and the #24 crew settled into a race rhythm behind only to lose out on the runner up spot on the penultimate lap.
The team now start preparations for the European Le Mans Season as well as Le Mans.