D'Station Racing AMR taken out of contention in Australian thriller

Sunday, January 12, 2020

After the technical issues in Qualifying yesterday, D'Station Racing AMR's start to todays second round of the Asian Le Mans Series from The Bend Motorsport Park in Australia was always going to be something of a struggle for the crew of the V8 Vantage GT3.

With the defective components having been changed overnight it would be Tomonobu Fujii who would take the start to todays four hour race as the Japanese team and their AMR factory engineers worked out their best strategy to restore a running position much higher up the GT grid than their P7 start suggested.

Indeed that was precisely the case in the opening laps as the #77 car avoided the early shenanigans of twenty five, multi class car diving into the start of a complicated mid field circuit for the first time which claimed both an LMP3 and the JLOC Lamborghini (amongst others) on the opening lap.

That aside, and whilst 'local' driver Liam Talbot stormed off into an early lead in his #27 HubAuto Corse Ferrari 488, Fujii had already moved up to P5 in class on the opening lap and up to P3 in class on the next lap before swiftly moving up to the rear of the second placed T2 Motorsport Ferrari.

Luck soon came the way of the #77 car as the #75 T2 Motorsport car spun off track to become temporarily beached on the kerb - that moved the #77 Aston Martin up to a comfortable looking P2 in class before the actions of others all but destroyed the race for the team and drivers Fujii, Satoshi Hoshino and Ross Gunn.

Coming through the twisty section of the backfield going through turns 18,19 and 20, the GT leaders were being caught by the faster LMP2 cars for the first time around this 7.7km circuit despite twenty five minutes of racing already under their belts.

Seeing the leader come up behind, Fujii let that car past but unbeknown to him the #45 Thunderhead Carlin Motorsport car of Jack Manchester was also coming into the mini hairpin corner at turn 23 too fast and straight into the blind spot for the #77.

Turning into the corner when he had to, Fujii first knowledge of the Carlin car being there was the collision that the front right hand side of his AMR had with the rear left hand corner of the prototype. and whilst Manchester elected to continue, the damage to the front of the #77 car needed immediate attention for which the Aston would disappear into the garage for the next thirty minutes.

That delay of course destroyed any such chance of a decent race result yet alone another podium finish. By the time the car was in a fit state to return to the track, the first hour of racing was already complete and it was team boss Satoshi Hoshino who would pick up the reigns from where Fujii had left off.

As the Full Course Yellows and Safety cars came and went for debris, stranded vehicles and fire aboard one unfortunate LMP2, there was little that neither Hoshino nor Gunn could do to recover their situation enough to make it count although by the end, their race deficit was just six laps.

The most galling thing about the whole #77/45 collision was that the Carlin car was awarded just a drive through penalty for their actions and whilst the D'Station Racing AMR car eventually finished 17th on track and P6 in class the #45 car would profit from the late demise of the long time leading #1 Eurasia car to take the final step of the overall podium.

The Series will now reconvene in Sepang, Malaysia in just over a month time where hopefully the change in circuit profile will once again come within the 'sweet spot' of the Vantage GT3 before the concluding round of the season in Thailand just a week later - that will be the race that Gunn will be forced to miss due to the rescheduled World Endurance Championship race at CoTA in the USA.

With a Ferrari lock out of the podium in Australia following the previous round in China where non were on it, this of course leaves for an opening Championship title fight as the Series moves back to Asia.

Photo credits - D'Station Racing / ALMS

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