Asian Le Mans Series – Ferrari top four lock-out at the 4 Hours of The Bend
Four Ferrari crews claimed the top four places at the end of the second round of the Asian Le Mans Series held at The Bend Motorsport Park in Australia. After the disappointment of the 4 Hours of Shanghai, Ferrari 488 GT3 cars dominated the GT class, monopolizing the podium, and more generally, demonstrating how the outcome of the opening events of the series is now a distant memory.
It was a return to the highest step of the podium for incumbent champions Car Guy after an authoritative four out of four showing in the last campaign allow the Japanese team to revive their title ambitions in the series, cancelling out the result of the previous date in Shanghai, to snatch the top spot. Takeshi Kimura, Kei Cozzolino and Côme Ledogar took the honours at the end of an incident-packed race full of contacts and lengthy periods of Full Course Yellow and Safety Car, which added up to almost an hour of on-track interference. One of these phases was due to contact made by Kei Cozzolino, attempting to lap a backmarker and colliding with a BMW, which triggered a FCY. The 488 GT3, however, managed to stay in the race but was summoned in for a drive-through with the clock about to show three hours, costing the driver temporarily the leadership.
The net beneficiary of the episode turned out to be the HubAuto Corsa-entered 488 GT3 Evo 2020, which had been leading as the stopwatch earlier signalled the hour marks, in spite of slightly slower pitstops than their adversaries. The new Ferrari had performed outstandingly on this tough testing ground, even though minor hindrances eventually put paid to the crew’s chances of a final win. One of these concerned an issue with the vehicle’s suspension jack, which forced Davide Rigon and Marcos Gomes to stay out for a very lengthy stint on the same tyres, while a drop in engine power caused an exhaust issue, limiting the overall performance of the Ferrari. Second place on the podium does, however, represent a notable competitive debut for the car, which had been raced, not only by the Italian and Brazilian drivers, but also by Liam Talbot.
Third place went to the 488 GT3 courtesy of Spirit of Race crewed by Alessandro Pier Guidi, Francesco Piovanetti and Oswaldo Negri Jr. who, in the latter stages of the race, thanks to breakneck laps by the driver from Tortona, was able to get the better of T2 Motorsports’ Ferrari to claim a podium place. Pier Guidi notched up the fastest lap of the race in the GT class with 2:56.990 on his 71st lap.
In spite of his podium hopes fading in the final hour of racing, David Tjiptobiantoro, Rio Haryanto and Christian Colombo had performed convincingly. The three had been amongst the frontrunners in every phase of the race, in spite of a few minor errs on the previously unknown and particularly challenging track.
The next race in the Asian Le Mans Series, the third of the four scheduled calendar dates, will be the 4 Hours of Sepang, to be held at the Malaysian circuit on February 14 and 15.