D'Station Racings ALMS title hopes expire with their engine in Buriram

Monday, February 24, 2020

Whilst Sunday evening was to be full of rejoicing and podium celebrations over at the fifth round of the World Endurance Championship in America, the final round of the 2019/20 Asian Le Mans Series came to an unfortunate grinding halt for the D'Station Racing AMR team in Thailand earlier in the day.

Needing to win the GT class outright at the Chang Buriram International Circuit plus then having to wait for other class results to go in their favour, it would have been a momentous event for the Japanese crew of the #77 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3 to come away as season victors anyway but for them, their season ended at the opposite end of the racing spectrum than where it had started in Shanghai last year.

With their resident gold rated driver Tomonobu Fujii again having Qualified the car in P4 for Sundays race, at least two of their main Championship rivals would be starting behind them at the start on the grid giving them at least a phycological advantage with something worth chasing.

With some quick drivers in some quick evo machinery ahead, Fujii stuck with the game plan and pressurised those ahead to move temporally up to P2 in class by the end of the first half hour of racing before he would later pitted from P3 in class just after the first hour of racing.

Handing the reigns to gentleman driver and team co-owner Satoshi Hoshino, all looked to be going well before unseen rear ended contact with a prototype on his opening laps finally saw the green Vantage GT3 come to a lumbering halt half way along the pit lane with no apparent life within the engine.

Rescued by four mechanics, the #77 car was pushed back into its garage box where the first signs of front end damage could be seen above the splitter but the damage had already been done underneath. Damaging the front ended radiators in the impact and unbeknown to Hoshino, the vital coolant had already left the engine cooling system which in turn allowed the engine to critically overheat and ultimately expire in the pit lane by the time he had nursed it back for almost an entire lap.

Inevitably, the team and their Prodrive engineers finally conceded that all was lost within the car and their 2019/20 Asian Le Mans Series debut conquest came to a premature end.

A sad end to a campaign for a team who started so well in Shanghai with a class win for the trio of Fujii, Hoshino and Ross Gunn, who himself was this weekend pre-occupied with the events of the WEC. His place was taken by Tom Gamble who sadly never got to drive any racing laps aboard the #77 but at least he know has the experience of both Sepang and Buriram to add to his his CV.

For the team, there were strong reports that they had filed an application to the ACO for this years Le Mans 24hr event in June, competing in the GTE Am class and with a possible tie up possibilities with Tom Ferrier's TF Sport team in the WEC itself and a part/full season return to the ALMS next year.

What ever happens, it has been fun watching them in ACO rules racing with their Aston and we wait to see (by the end of the week actually) if their dream of Le Mans entry comes off for this year or not!

Photo credits - D'Station Racing

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