Another busy weekend of AMR racing at opposing sides of the world

Another busy weekend of AMR racing at opposing sides of the world

Five Aston Martin Racing cars compete this weekend at two tracks on opposite sides and hemispheres of the world making for a fourteen hour time difference for us watching proceedings from the UK.

Japanese team, D'Station Racing AMR compete in the final round of their Asian Le Mans Series challenge from the Chang Buriram International Circuit in Thailand whilst the AMR factory team and their three GTE cars, alongside TF Sport compete in in the fifth round of the World Endurance Championship over at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

D'Station have already completed their Qualifying for Sundays final four hour race, with Tomonobu Fujii qualifying the green #77 AMR Vantage GT3 in P4 ahead of a race that they must really win to stand any chance of snatching the Class title and that coveted automatic invitation to the Le Mans 24hr in a GTE Am car.

Fujii joins team co-owner Satoshi Hoshino and series debutant Tom Gamble (in place of Ross Gunn who is racing at CoTA) for the race that begins at 12:15hrs local - thats an eye watering 04:15hrs GMT.

Over in Texas, the four Vantage GTE cars have just completed their second Free Practice session of what is unusually a compressed race weekend featuring track sessions over just Saturday and Sunday.

Thankfully the rains of earlier this week have now passed the circuit by although track and air temperatures have remained low and has caused some difficulties with getting the tyres up to temperature and operating as expected around a circuit that has only recently been mostly resurfaced.

During FP1, the #97 Pro crew of Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn headed their six car field with a lap time of 2:01:838 and that was reciprocated by the #95 crew of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim during FP2 with a slightly faster time - only missing out on the top slot at the very last moment of the red flagged shortened session despite technical issues of their own that saw Sorensen stop out on track earlier in the session.

In the eleven strong GTE Am class, the #98 AMR prepared car welcomed back Paul Dalla Lana after his skiing injury induced absence at the Rolex 24 with he, Ross Gunn and Darren Turner being the stronger of the two GTE Am Astons as Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam have appeared to be struggling for pace and have had to chase the optimum setup in these opening session just ahead of Qualifying later tonight and despite being lighter than their #98 cousins.

Qualifying starts at 17:40hrs local (23:40hrs GMT) with the start to the Lone Star Le Mans 6hr race being waved off at midday on Sunday local (18:00Hrs GMT).

Photo credits - AMR / WEC / TF Sport 

Saturday, February 22, 2020 |
All or nothing for D'Station Racing AMR at Asian Le Mans Series finale

All or nothing for D'Station Racing AMR at Asian Le Mans Series finale

Private testing is over ahead the final round of the 2019/20 Asian Le Mans Series over at the Chang Buriram International Circuit this weekend as Japanese based D'Station Racing AMR face an all or nothing prospect as far as their GT Championship aspirations as concerned.

Having endured all that Mother Nature could throw at the team's #77 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3 at the last round of the series in Malaysia just a week ago, cruel transmission issues ended their expected points haul run with just over twenty minutes remaining. The team know that nothing short of a class win will be enough before they then have to also rely upon the racing misfortune for others ahead of them in the table before they have any chance of snatching away the GT class crown at the last gasp.

Ross Gunn has also ended his duties with the team in Malaysia as his services are needed over at the Circuit of the Americas as the World Endurance Championship resumes after an extended break in the calendar following the cancellation of the Brazilian event.

Tom Gamble takes Gunn's place alongside team regulars Satoshi Hoshino and Tomonobu Fujii and was in Malaysia to meet the team and watch their methodology before they all made the relatively short trip to Thailand.

The #77 car ended todays Private test day third in class just 0.5 seconds behind the revitalised and class leading JLOC Lamborghini. A further change in Balance of Performance sees the new 2020 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo of the #27 HubAuto team have their turbo boost reduced for the event having now run in two races and quickly established huge leads of the other cars in class.

Two Free Practice sessions take place tomorrow with the start of the final four hours of racing starting at 11:45hrs local.

Photo credits - ALMS / D'Station

Friday, February 21, 2020 |
R-Motorsport add another young name to their 2020 GT roll call.

R-Motorsport add another young name to their 2020 GT roll call.

Swiss based R-Motorsport have today announced another young GT racer to carry their mantel into this years GT World Challenge Europe Series with AWS, competing with an as yet unannounced co-driver in one of the teams grey Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3's.

Singapore born, British racing driver James Pull (20) is no stranger to modern GT racing having stepped up from single seater Formula 3 in 2018 into the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Series where he took the Asian, Middle Eastern and European Series' by storm.

Last year he again raced a Lamborghini Huracan, this time in the then Blancpain GT Endurance Cup with Barwell Motorsport, winning the Silver Cup class in the #78 car at the Spa 24 in the process before eventually finishing fourth overall by the end of season alongside co drivers Sandy Mitchell and Jordan Witt.

Pull is the latest of an already established series of other young GT drivers brought into the team hoping to emulate (and/or better) the accomplishments of those individuals before them. Last year, the R-Motorsport Silver cup pairing of Hugo de Sadeleer and Aaro Vainio finished P2 overall in the World Challenge Europe Series.

The Series kicks off at Brands Hatch at the start of May.

Photo credits - World Challenge Europe / R-Motorsport
Friday, February 21, 2020 |
Team Virage announce GT Open Cup GT4 entry

Team Virage announce GT Open Cup GT4 entry

Spanish based Team Virage have today confirmed an entry for one of their Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's in the forthcoming GT Cup Open Series for two returning drivers.

Having sampled both the new AMR GT4 race car and the new for 2019 GT4 sub category of racing under the GT Open umbrella, drivers Fernando Navarrette and Alvaro Lobera obviously liked what they experienced at their 'toe in the water' one of entry at the penultimate round of the 2019 season at a rain soaked Circuit de Catalunya circuit to come back to the Valencia based team for this time a full season attempt at the title.

Despite the torrential rain that effected the race meeting in Barcelona last season, the team still finished P4 in the Pro-Am class but would later suffer from water related electrical issues even before the start of second race of the weekend to such a degree that they would not take the start.

This Silver / Bronze driving duo represented Spain in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 at last years FIA Motorsport Games at Autodromo de Vallelunga in November.
The 2020 season sees another six round - double header season as the GT4 class cars share the weekend with GT3 and open wheeled formulae starting at Paul Ricard at the end of April.

Photo credits - Team Virage / Xynamic 
Thursday, February 20, 2020 |
Testing gets underway for many new AMR GT4 teams

Testing gets underway for many new AMR GT4 teams

With a large number of teams from around the world swapping over to the Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4 platform for their 2020 season, these past couple of weeks has seen a distinct upturn in track and factory activity as both Prodrive keep building, testing and shipping new cars out for these teams to start testing locally ahead of their respective campaign's.

The largest number of convertees has to be in the North American GT racing arena as AMR strategic partner CSJ Motorsport changed the GT landscape over the winter months, supplying nearly ten Vantage GT4 cars to teams competing signed up to compete in both the IMSA sanctioned Michelin Pilot Challenge and the SRO's sanctioned GT4 America Series.

Whilst we have already seen the four new 2019 specification AMR Vantage GT4 take to the track of Daytona International Speedway for the start of the IMSA season, the GT4 America Series still has a few weeks to go ahead of their opening round at the Circuit of the America's in Austin, Texas over the 6-8th March.

We have already seen the California based Rearden Racing team accumulate three such examples of this race car and even race them competitively at the series Winter Invitational at the Thermal Club with great effect. At least two of their cars have gone on to test at CoTA this week although it's not yet known in which classes these cars will compete in.

Last week also saw the Flying Lizards team take delivery and test their new AMR Vantage GT4 (above) with drivers Michael Dinan and Robby Foley having a turn behind the week as they tested at Sonoma Raceway. The conversion  to the AMR platform from such a traditionally staunch Porsche supporting team came about after Dinan raced the Optimum Motorsport Vantage GT4 at least years Gulf 12Hr.

First to announce their passing over to the AMR brand has seen BSport Racing test their new Vantage at both Palm Beach and most recently at Sebring (below). Footage from todays test under the Florida sun has seen the first visuals of their already published livery detail with drivers Kenton Koch and Bryan Putt behind the wheel.

Then, and back in the home country of Aston Martin Racing, this weeks has seen the French AGS Events Racing Team take delivery of their first (of an expected four) car batch direct from the Prodrive factory ready to test at Silverstone ahead of what is expected to be a dual FFSA GT4 and GT4 European Series calendar.

Whilst the team have already announced the driver line ups for their two FFSA GT4 Pro-Am and Am entries - nothing has so far been said in regards to drivers for the other SRO sanctioned Series. Clearly, there is some way to go before the car below looks anything like the image below that!

Whilst we await the declaration of his own racing intentions for 2020, the reigning British GT GT4 Champion and winner of the the 2019 AMR Drivers Academy, Tom Canning has been kept busy shaking down two examples of the V8 Vantage GT4 today alone before they are shipped out to their new clients.

We have already learned that at least one GT4 platform will be making its way over to Japan to support D'Station Racing AMR in their dual class 2020 Pirelli Super Taikyu GT3 and GT4 campaign.

We think that its about to start getting busy!!!

Photo credits - GT4 America / Rearden / BSport Racing / AGS Events / Flying Lizards

Thursday, February 20, 2020 |
Asian Le Mans Series finale for D'Station Racing AMR in Thailand

Asian Le Mans Series finale for D'Station Racing AMR in Thailand

Having endured chaotic scenes at the start of last weekends penultimate round of the 2019/20 Asian Le Mans Series, Japanese based team D'Station Racing AMR came away from Sepang, Malaysia empty handed after late drive train issues robbed the #77 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3 of valuable points needed in their quest to challenge for overall GT Class win and earn themselves an automatic invitation to the Le Mans 24hr.

With heavy and thunderous rain having delayed the start of the race for over an hour and a half, Tomonobu Fujii didn't waste any time in taking the GT Class lead by the end of the opening lap having started in P4 after the days earlier Qualifying session.

Despite issues with the car's door number illumination panels dropping the car out of the top three, Fujii's opening stint and a superb hour long stint from gentleman driver and team co-owner Satoshi Hoshino left the teams super-silver driver, Ross Gunn with little over two hours to battle to regain their position within the top three and those all important points as the then series leading CarGuy Ferrari continued to falter at the rear of the field.

Disaster however struck for the team with just twenty minutes remaining with Gunn returning to the pit lane with technical issues towards the rear of the car that cost the team track position as they attempted repairs but five corners after leaving the pits however, the #77 car ground to a halt and would proceed in the race no further.

That stint would be Gunn's final contribution with the Japanese team as this weekend his driving services would again be required over in the World Endurance Championship with the #98 GTE Am entry as that Championship's fifth round of their 2019/20 season had been rescheduled to the Circuit of the America's in Austin, Texas after the cancellation of the intended Brazilian round two weeks earlier.

As a replacement for Gunn, Aston Martin Racing dispatched the 2018 Autosport Young Driver of the Year winner - Tom Gamble to take Gunn's place as the silver ranked driver in the car in what will only be his second event aboard the 2019 specification AMR Vantage GT3 having first raced a TF Sport prepared car at last years Aston Martin Festival at the Le Mans 24hr. Having watched the team operate in Sepang he will at least not arrive in Thailand completely green and unprepared.

Points wise - anyone of the remaining six GT entries could in theory win the overall GT title but with only 25 points available for a class win and another for class pole position, the #77 D'Station Racing crew will have to hope for some misfortune for the GT cars ahead of them in the class for that to become a possibility considering their 16 points deficit after last weeks DNF.

Official track action at the Chang Buriram International Circuit begins this Saturday with two Free Practice sessions before Qualifying later in the day before the start of the final four hours of Asian Le Mans Series racing beginning at 11:45am (local) on Sunday.

Photo credits - D'Station Racing / ALMS / Gamble

Wednesday, February 19, 2020 |
Statement from WEC following announcement from Aston Martin

Statement from WEC following announcement from Aston Martin


Further to the announcement by Aston Martin Limited that it will postpone development work on its Valkyrie Hypercar programme, the FIA, ACO and its racing championship, the FIA World Endurance Championship, wish to make the following statement.

The decision announced by Aston Martin is very regrettable but perhaps not unexpected in light of the persistent rumours over the last six months concerning the fragility of the brand’s exposure in the rapidly evolving automotive market, together with its decision to enter Formula 1 as a works team in 2021.

It is, however, the hope of the ACO, FIA and WEC that both Multimatic and Red Bull Advanced Technologies will find a solution to bring this programme to fruition and the Aston Martin Valkyrie to the racetrack.

In the meantime, the strategy concerning Le Mans Hypercar and LMDh remains unchanged. The next phase in the positive development of the future top class of competition for the WEC (and IMSA) will be revealed during the SuperSebring event in Florida between 18-21 March.

Quotes from the Presidents of the FIA Endurance Commission and ACO and CEO of the WEC.

Richard Mille, President of the FIA Endurance Commission: “While it is disappointing that a manufacturer that faces difficult times has to re-evaluate its commitment, I remain confident that the Hypercar platform is the right, long-term solution for the FIA World Endurance Championship. The category, with its aggressive style, is a very attractive proposition at the same time maintaining excellent cost to competitiveness ratio.

“Several big and famous automotive manufacturers are evaluating their involvement while the FIA, together with the ACO, are very much committed to building a strong foundation for the new top class in the FIA WEC. With a consistent strategy in place, we are looking forward to this new, exciting era of sports car racing.”

Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO: “Aston Martin recently informed us of this new development in its Valkyrie Le Mans Hypercar project. We can only take note of this and await a favourable outcome.

“For a few months now, we have all been aware of the economic difficulties of Aston Martin, and the subsequent questions raised about its future motorsport programmes, namely endurance racing and F1, as well as its strategic path forward. Contextual developments linked to economic and industrial parameters can always occur for a manufacturer during the implementation of projects.

“As far as the next top category of competition, Le Mans Hypercar, is concerned, we continue to believe and remain utterly convinced that a manufacturer has its rightful place there, in all its best interests.

“To run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the FIA World Endurance Championship, at this level of technology and budget, is an undeniable opportunity for a manufacturer to demonstrate its competitiveness. This covers a whole range of fields: technical, efficiency, improved fuel consumption, sustainable mobility.

“The ACO/IMSA convergence does not impact this category, and the next elements on the technical details of that common platform, to be given at Sebring in mid-March, will confirm that.

“We hope that this transitory pause in Aston Martin's Valkyrie development with Multimatic will come to a quick and positive conclusion."

Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA WEC: “This is not good news for the WEC in the short term, but it doesn’t change our mid and long-term plans. We still have Toyota and Peugeot plus other entrants who have expressed an interest for Le Mans Hypercar and, with the arrival of LMDh, we will welcome many new manufacturers. Of course, it would be better if Aston Martin was present as well, but it’s important that we have as wide a range of manufacturers as possible and that is the strategic plan we are working on for the future.”


Source material - WEC
Wednesday, February 19, 2020 |
Aston Martin postpones Valkyrie in WEC

Aston Martin postpones Valkyrie in WEC


Aston Martin Lagonda has postponed development of its World Endurance Championship (WEC) Hypercar race entry, following the recent decision by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and the International Motor Sport Association (IMSA) to harmonise the Hypercar class with the so-called LMDh prototype category in the WEC from 2021 and the US-based WeatherTech Sportscar Championship from 2022.

This decision means that the Aston Martin Valkyrie Hypercar will not make its WEC debut at Silverstone in August 2020 or compete in the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans. Aston Martin will now pause as it considers whether to continue in any future prototype class. Aston Martin remains open to working with both organisations to find a suitable pathway for any future participation.

Aston Martin Racing will continue to compete at the highest level of sportscar racing with its FIA World Endurance Championship-leading Aston Martin Vantage GTE.

The full potential of the Vantage GTE has been unleashed in this year’s WEC GTE Pro and Am championships, where the car has collected four class victories from four rounds. Aston Martin currently leads the GT Manufacturers’ championship and Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen are top of the Drivers’ standings by 14 points. Aston Martin remains fully committed to GT racing, in which it has been a mainstay since 2005.
The Aston Martin Vantage GTE, based on the critically acclaimed road car, is powered by a 4-litre V8 twin-turbocharged engine. It made its debut in the first round of 2018/19 WEC Super Season, the 2018 Total 6 Hours of Spa, and since then has collected four GTE Pro class victories, two GTE Am wins and started the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans from the class pole.

Aston Martin Lagonda is poised to re-enter *Formula 1TM next year as a works team for the first time since 1960, when the Racing Point F1TM team becomes Aston Martin F1TM works team. The British sportscar manufacturers’ focus will thus be defined by its activities at the highest level of both single-seater competition and endurance GT racing, for which it has earned a rich pedigree over the past 15 years.

Aston Martin Vice President and Chief Special Operations Officer and President of Aston Martin Racing, David King said: “With such momentous change taking place in sportscar racing, the decision to pause our entry into the WEC Hypercar class gives us the time and breathing space to calmly assess the status of the top level of the sport, and our place within it.

Competing against our closest rivals on the road in GT racing makes perfect sense. Vantage is winning in some of the most fiercely contested sportscar classes in global motorsport, and long may this continue.”

Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group CEO, Andy Palmer said: “Aston Martin’s ambition to compete for the overall victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans remains undiminished, but it is only right that we reassess our position in light of a significant change in the landscape that was not anticipated when we committed last year. We entered Aston Martin Valkyrie in WEC and at Le Mans with the understanding that we would be competing with similar machinery and like-minded manufacturers. The situation has changed and it makes sense for us to pause and reconsider our options.

Meanwhile, we’re extremely proud of Vantage and what it is achieving against our most direct competitors. GT racing has always been positioned at the core of what we do, for it bears the closest link to the cars that we build for the road. Both the Vantage road car and the Vantage GTE are borne from the same aluminium body structures that originate in Gaydon. When we win in WEC, it is a victory for Vantage, for our customers, and everyone at Aston Martin Lagonda.”

Customer deliveries of the Aston Martin Valkyrie, the product of the unique collaboration between Aston Martin, Red Bull Advanced Technologies and project partner AF Racing, will commence in H2 2020 and Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro deliveries will commence in 2021.


Source material - Aston Martin
Photo credit - Red Bull Technologies
Wednesday, February 19, 2020 |
The WEC rides back into town for Round five in Texas

The WEC rides back into town for Round five in Texas

Three weeks later than originally intended and at a venue different from that originally intended for this 2019/20 season, the World Endurance Championship returns for its fifth round of its eight round season, this time at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Originally scheduled to take place at Interlagos in Brazil, various 'difficulties' at that circuit left the WEC looking for a quick and convenient substitute and with cars and team equipment expected to be already en-route from Bahrain to the Americas, North America again soon became a location of choice (or just convenience) especially with the following round of the Championship being at Sebring, Florida just a month later.

With the eight hours of Bahrain having taken place two weeks before Christmas, this change of date in the schedule allowed for several WEC drivers to participate in other headline GT racing at bespoke venues such as Daytona and Bathurst but for many of the Aston Martin Racing drivers, it has been a long and quiet eight weeks since the deserts of Bahrain. Unfortunately for those in attendance at these two events, the race cars in which these AMR WEC drivers were aboard failed to make the end of their respective races whilst others meanwhile, had to make do with development testing with the AMR Vantage GT3 at circuits around Europe or simply maintaining their fitness regime.

The lucky ones have even got to have a go in one of three Aston Martin Valkyrie’s at Silverstone recently.

Last week we heard confirmation of AF Corse's successful appeal that saw their #51 car's race win at Shanghai back in November 2019 reinstated.  That news obviously has had the effect in dropping the #97 AMR GTE Pro car of Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn back down to fourth (as per the finishing order after the four hour race) which in turn slightly reduces their championship point tally but that being said, we still enjoy the sight of having the #95 AMR crew of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim headlining the GTE Pro class Championship table by 15 points with the #97 crew just 2 points behind the now second placed #51 AF Corse Ferrari.

These Championship positions were thanks to a first and third finishing position for the #95 and #97 cars respectively after eight hours of highly exciting racing in Bahrain.

Not letting the GTE Pro guys have it all their own way but Bahrain also saw the #98 AMR prepared GTE Am car of Paul Dalla Lana, Ross Gunn and Darren Turner return to the podium with their third podium of the season so far, finishing second behind the then highly dominant #57 Project 1 Porsche.
For TF Sports #90 GTE Am car, their own Balance of Performance criteria (different to that of the #98 AMR prepared car) was detrimental enough to dramatically penalise its performance on track, never really troubling the top half of the Am class field before technical issues on track and a long stop off in the garage eventually saw Salih Yoluc's red Honeybadger car retired from the race.

This time, there would be no more podium celebration for him and co-drivers Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam.

That result has left the #98 crew just ahead of the #90 crew in the GTE Am Drivers Championship table just a dozen or so points off the class leading Project 1 car.

Not raced at by the Championship in 2018, the Circuit of the Americas offers some fond memories for Aston Martin Racing and particularly Paul Dalla Lana in his #98 car as 2016 and 2017 gave him class wins with his then co-drivers Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda whilst the #95 of Sorensen and Thiim earned themselves both P1 and P4 in the same respective seasons.

Dalla Lana is expected to return to the race track for the first time since his skiing accident in January that saw him excluded from his IMSA Rolex 24 Vantage GTD programme at Daytona on the grounds of being unfit/unable to undertake the compulsory Roar before the 24 Test day. That position was ultimately taken by AMR Junior driver Andrew Watson who of course drives the Gulf Porsche in the WEC Am Class.

Suffering form an unfortunate calendar clash this weekend between his WEC and Asian Le Mans Series duties with the D'Station Racing AMR team, Ross Gunn is down to race at CoTA this weekend with his position in the #77 D'Station car being taken by Tom Gamble at Buriram this weekend.

Going into this weeks first track sessions of the event on Saturday, the FIA Endurance Committee have again issued their latest round of BoP adjustments (a per race occurrence in the case of the Am class) with the two AMR GTE Pro cars maintaining their performance settings of Bahrain whilst the two AMR GTE Am cars each receive a weight reduction to the tune of 30kg for the #90 TF Sport car and 15kg for the factory supported #98 car. That should hopefully bring all four cars into race winning contention in their respective classes at the weekend.

The six hour Lone Star Le Mans race is due to start at midday (local) this Sunday.

Photo credits - AMR / WEC / AML

Monday, February 17, 2020 |
The return of Prosport to 24H Series racing

The return of Prosport to 24H Series racing

It has been great to read this week of the return of the German based Prosport team name to the world of GT racing as the Creventic 24H Series confirm their provisional entry list for their first race in Europe of the season in Italy at the end of March.

Former runners of two Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's in numerous series across Europe, the last word that we had seen about that team was regarding their probable winding up after a difficult year for them with new AMR Vantage machinery in both GT3 and GT4 classes.

All four cars were/have been up for sale since before the end of last season and previous customers of theirs have been seen racing with other teams.

It is therefore extremely pleasant to see the Prosport team name again mentioned in the Creventic circles as the series confirms an AMR GT4 entry for drivers Rodrique Gillion, Nico Verdonck and new co driver and fellow Belgium national Tom Heeren.

This team and the former two drivers once held the GT4 Championship lead in this Series last year before technical issues with both their Prosport and Team Virage (used after the withdrawal of Prosport from all competitive racing last year) cars ended that possibility with two races to go.

Hopefully, this year will be better for all and we wish them luck!

Photo credits - 24H Series

Saturday, February 15, 2020 |
Heartache in the high drama of Sepang Asian Le Mans

Heartache in the high drama of Sepang Asian Le Mans

Having qualified P4 earlier in the day for this evenings penultimate round of the Asian Le Mans Series from Sepang, all appeared to be ticking along quite nicely for the D'Station Racing team and the Series until they and the other twenty two cars from the LMP2, LMP3 and GT classes went to collect upon the starting grid for the race.

Torrential rain together with a thunderous electrical storm directly overhead first put pay to the live stream but quickly bit into other safety critical systems around the circuit that warranted the immediate postponement of the start of the race - fifteen minutes at a time before the delay became indefinite as first the storm had to pass over before some repairs could even begin.

Eventually, by the time the storm had passed and the Series had recovered as many systems around the circuit as they could (approx a 1hr 40min delay), the race eventually began behind the Safety car for two siting laps that Tomonobu Fujii undertook for the D'Station Racing AMR team behind the wheel of their #77 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3.

With TV coverage around the 5.5km, fifteen turn circuit being severely limited as a result of the storm, many camera positions had suffered from direct lightning strikes, so much of the race had to be followed with the benefit of live timing.

Despite the earlier heavy rain, the 31deg ambient temperature soon started drying the race surface as the cars were eventually released where Fujii was able to take the lead of the GT class somewhere around the opening lap which he held by right for the next 25 minutes before Liam Talbot in the #27 HubAuto Ferrari 488 Evo eventually found a route around the Japanese driver.

Forty five minutes in, the first Full Course Yellow allowed these top two GT cars to pit - the #27 electing not to change driver but the D'Station team did swap out Fujii for their gentleman driver and team co-owner Satoshi Hoshino. He went on to drive a great, consistent hour long stint - dropping only one position on track due to the staggered pit stop strategy from all the GT teams to eventually hand the car over to Ross Gunn from P3 with just over two hours remaining.

It became a lonely chase for the AMR factory driver as he began the chase towards the #27 Ferrari and #88 JLOC Lamborghini ahead in class, such were the gaps between them as two further FCY's limited that chase time down by several minutes apiece but at least it was only the top three GT cars on the lead lap of their class!

The #77 AMR car received a report from Race Control to fix both non functioning door number panel illuminations at their next stop (a repair that would cost them time in pit lane) whilst the #27 Ferrari ahead also got reported for speeding under the previous FCY so all was getting exciting in class as all were desperate to out score the then GT Class Championship leading CarGuy Ferrari who had been struggling all race with performance despite their earlier pole position.

Forty nine minutes remaining and Gunn pitted the car for another full service stop, albeit that he would again stay in the vehicle - confusion within the Prodrive support pit crew lead to a wheel rolling back towards the live pit lane and too many mechanics being adjudged to have worked on the car during that stop received then a further report to Race Control.

Ten minutes later the car was back into the pit lane - there appeared to be concern for the rear, non-drivers side of the car that slowed its departure. Was it a puncture or contact damage, we don't yet know but having used the customary cable ties to secure whatever was wrong, that eventually allowed Gunn to depart pit lane again - now down to P4 in class but critically still ahead of the #7 CarGuy Ferrari.

Then - disaster.

Attributed to his earlier stop or not, the timing screen suddenly flashed up that the #77 car had stopped on track at T5 on what would have been his out lap and from there the AMR Vantage GT3 would go no further in the race. Eventually being passed by the #7 car on track, the #77 D'Station car would suffer a non points scoring DNF in Sepang but at least the dismal performance of the then Championship leading #7 car may still leave a life line for the team at the series finale at Buriram in Thailand next weekend.

Indeed, such were the volume of incidence during the final hour of the race, the finishing positions of all classes in Sepang would have to be considered as strictly provisional. Then we will have to see just what Fujii, Hoshino and Tom Gamble can do together in Thailand to see if D'Station Racing AMR can earn themselves a place at the Le Mans 24 Hour.

Update - we understand that the D’Station Racing AMR race ending mechanical issue was done to gearbox failure!

Photo credits - D'Station / ALMS

Saturday, February 15, 2020 |
D'Station Racing looking to restore their championship position as ALMS races into the night

D'Station Racing looking to restore their championship position as ALMS races into the night

The build up for tomorrows four hour penultimate round of the 2019/20 Asian Le Mans Series has been steadily progressing for the Japanese D'Station Racing AMR team in their #777 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3 as all the teams dealt with the changing weather systems over the circuit today.

Having won the opening round of the Series in Shanghai last year, the last round at the Bend Motorsport Park in Australia last month proved to be a bruising affair for the team after Tomonobu Fujii was unceremoniously dispatched off the circuit and into the garage for lengthy repairs by an impatient LMP2 driver. Despite the endeavours of the teams super fast silver driver Ross Gunn and was as steady stint from gentleman driver Satoshi Hoshino, The Bend left the squad with just eight points for their efforts and that dropped them down into P2 in GT with the final two races in quick succession to each other this weekend and next.

Yesterdays private testing was warm yet dry around the 5.5km Sepang circuit with the team delivering steady lap times in the two available sessions - not the fastest as that position was again held by one of the many Ferrari 488's despite their now slightly heavier Balance of Performance for the round.

Today became 'interesting' during the two Free Practice sessions as torrential rain affected both sessions as the twenty three cars first circulated in the light of a wet day before seeing out the second session under floodlight just as the race will allow them to do tomorrow after Qualifying in the morning.

Next weekends replacement for Gunn has also made the trip over to Malaysia to meet the team and introduce himself into their ways of working. Due to the back to back nature of the closing half of the Asian Le Mans Series and the restructuring of the World Endurance Championship following the cancellation of its proposed Brazilian round earlier this year, next weekend sees a clash between the two ACO sanctioned events that forces Gunn to see out his WEC duties and miss the final round of the ALMS from Buriram in Thailand.

The dilemma has been resolved with the placement of Tom Gamble by the AMR factory who will race with the team next week in the place of Gunn, an opportunity that the 2018 Autosport Young Driver of the Year winner was clearly looking forward to despite his limited running in the new AMR Vantage GT3.

Having raced in an Audi R8 in the Blancpain GT Series last year and in a TF Sport prepared AMR Vantage GT3 at last years Aston Martin Festival from Le Mans, Gamble is certainly no newcomer to GT racing and depending how this weekend race goes, Buriram could be a winner takes all event that could pave a way directly to Le Mans next year for the team.

The start of the four hours of Sepang starts at 08:30 GMT

Game on..............!!

Photo credits - D'Station Racing AMR / ALMS

Friday, February 14, 2020 |