Red River Sport secure debut Asian Le Mans Series podium

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Taking the significant developmental step forward up the GT racing ladder, Red River Sport with TF Sport claimed a sensational but thoroughly deserved class podium in their inaugural Asian Le Mans Series event at the season opener in Shanghai this morning.

With what was intended to be a three driver line up aboard the TF Sport prepared #5 Aston Martin Racing V12 Vantage GT3 saw just Johnny Mowlem and Bonny Grimes arrive at the circuit after untimely personal issues sadly kept their other Bronze driver, Ivor Dunbar at home.

First time of competing at this higher, international level saw Grimes Qualify the car on his own for a very respectful P5 in class and despite some significant swings in weather conditions at the circuit over the available testing and Free Practice sessions. Conditions also posed doubt at the start of the event this morning with thick fog reducing visibility to a point where a 'normal' race start was only just possible by the time of the green flag lap as well as being on a very slippery track.

By the time the four race started Grimes wisely took his time for the car and tyres to warm and settle before he started to put in quicker lap times. In front of him, the GT class leading Audi R8 - a car that wasn't even in any competitive state after an engine fire during Thursdays Private test was pounding in the laps to produce a significant class lead only for that all to disappear with the appearance of a Full Course Yellow and then Safety Car to recover the then stricken, former race leading LMP2.

Fifteen minutes behind the Safety Car caused some of the GT class cars ahead of Grimes to reappraise their pit stop strategy allowing the #5 car to quietly move up to P2 in class without actually overtaking anyone of track.

Swapping over to Johnny Mowlem after forty minutes of racing saw the former Le Mans Champion presented with the class leading #88 Audi wanting to lap him whilst he was still getting up to speed although that car would soon have further fire related pit issues at their next stop - issues that would see the competitive nature of the car reduced to that of an also ran.

Their hardship was of course Red River Sports gain as that elevated them to P1 in class - a position that Mowlem and then Grimes would hang on to for the next hour or so as another FCY and Safety Car would again neutralise the race for another twenty minutes whilst another stricken LMP2 was recovered.

This Shanghai race was certainly full of bizarre and unexpected accident and incidents that led to some great inter class racing.

At interview at the half way point of the race, Mowlem commented that their leading gap would soon disappear as and when AF Corse's WEC factory drivers James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi came to the wheel of their respective Ferrari 488 GT3 Customer Car.

That inevitability final materialised after as the race entered its final hour when the #5 car was demoted to P3 in class.

The race finally ended with Grimes taking the flag for third place in the GT class just two laps behind the much stronger Car Guy Ferrari 488 - an incredible achievement together considering the prior racing experience of Grimes.

For Mowlem to say that their goal was to develop whilst having fun was certainly achieved with the duo proudly taking their place on the podium in the company of some big names in modern day GT racing - crews that ran with three very abled drivers all of which puts into context just how well Grimes drove today.

The teams will now pack away all of their equipment as the Series moves over too the Fuji International Speedway Circuit for the second round of the four round championship in just to weeks time.

Photo credits - Asian LMS / Andrew Lofthouse

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