Dubai - An event best laid to rest for the five AMR runners in the Asian Le Mans Series (Updated)

Sunday, February 12, 2023


Whilst the Dubai Autodrome Circuit has perhaps never been the ‘kindest’ to an Aston Martin Racing programme whatever the series involved, you would be hard pressed to recall such an event where most, if not all of the AMR runners had been blighted with such appalling luck and misfortune.

Like previously said, both the Bullitt Racing and TF Sport teams faced early logistical issues that forced a costly air freight bill for one and the late arrival of another car for TF Sport plus much of their pit equipment.

Then before the racing had even begun, the #61 Evisu Racing (with TF Sport) Vantage GT3 of David Pun, Ross Gunn and Adrian D’Silva suffered significant front-end damage that required parts to be flown in from the UK in the hope of making the grid of at least Sunday’s second race – but then, that’s just racing!!

Unfortunately for them, that was not to be with the exaggerated repair time and parts availability also forcing them to miss Sundays race as well, but we understand that they should be ready in time for next weekend’s second brace of races in Yas Marina.

In race one, the early testing pace of the #66 Bullitt Racing car of Valentine Hasse-Clot, Martin Berry and Jacob Riegel was very quickly unravelled with glancing side to side contact with a Mercedes on only the third lap of the race, breaking their front-end suspension which, despite the best of efforts of that time) forced the car to be retired.

The remaining three cars from TF Sport, D’Station Racing and the Viper Niza team all completed the opening four-hour round with track progression relative to their Qualifying position only being made from both the #95 TF Sport car of John Hartshorne/Jonny Adam/Henrique Chaves and the two driver Viper Niza #65 car of Douglas Khoo and Dominic Ang.

Sundays race had seen a change to the GT class Balance of Performance criteria with all the marques received increases in boost whilst the BMW, Porsche and Mercedes all received an increase in base rate too.

With grid positions being taken from Saturday’s second-best lap times for their bronze ranked drivers, the #77 D’Station Racing car of Satoshi Hoshino, Tomonobu Fujii and Charlie Fagg would again be the highest starters of the four starting Aston Martin’s in eight with the #66 Bullitt car in P13, the #95 TF Sport car in P18 and the #65 Viper car in P22.

Whilst the D’Station car would fly the flag for the brand towards the top of the class for much of the race, the longevity of the AMR situation was such that it was soon muscled backwards in the order towards the latter stages of the race for them to eventually finish in sixth for some valuable championship points at least.

That would be as far as the good news would go again for this day as just before the 75% race distance, a heavy crash for Khoo resulted in the destruction of the front end of his car and a painful harness winding experience for the gentleman driver. That injury would be in addition to a foot injury apparently sustained during a routine pit stop earlier in Race 1 from which the team received a massive post race time penalty.

Messaging Khoo after the race, he confirmed to us that whilst he was otherwise OK from his ordeal (which is of course the important bit) less could be said about the state of his car which he believes to have been written off due to the damage sustained.

What that means for his and Ang’s Yas Marina event is as yet unclear but judging by Khoo’s tone of message – it will be doubtful if they will be in attendance with a new chassis in that short a time!

Just to round things off – the #95 TF Sport car would finish P14 and the #66 Bullitt car P17 to round off a totally disappointing and frustrating weekend for all concerned.

Goodbye Dubai and hello Yas Marina!!

Update - We have also learned that despite the best efforts of the TF Sport team, David Pun and his Evisu Racing squad have elected to take no further part within the Asian Le Mans Series have have since returned home as has the official withdrawal been confirmed of the Malaysian Viper Niza team from this weeks competition.

Five now become three!! ☹️

Photo credits – Teams / A Lofthouse / AMR
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