2016/17 Asian Le Mans Series champion team Algarve Pro Racing returned to its winning ways in the second round of the series, the 4 Hours of Fuji, with drivers Andrea Pizzitola and Harrison Newey.
Newey took the lead into the first corner at Fuji Speedwaywith the team’s Ligier JS P2-Judd, and maintained it until a well-timed pit call by the United Autosports team enabled its pole-sitting Ligier JS P2 Nissan with Phil Hanson behind the wheel to get the jump on the Algarve entry.
The battle between the pair continued throughout the race before a safety car period with just 30 minutes to go bunched the field up. At the restart Pizzitola was just in front of Paul Di Resta in the UA car but held on to claim the victory.
In third place, and taking the win in LMP2 Am, was ARC Bratislava in a impressive comeback drive. Early in the race the team’s Ligier JS P2 dropped back after an incident saw Miro Konopka tangle with another competitor. Ling Kang put in a solid middle stint to help the team climb up the order. After the safety car, and with Darren Burke driving, they closed the gap to the class-leading No. 23 United Autosports Ligier JS P2 Nissan. Darren caught and passed the No. 23 to claim third-place overall and the LMP2 Am trophy win.
In LMP3, just as in opener at Shanghai, it was the Viper Niza Racing Ligier JS P3 of Nigel Moore that got the jump on the field, running as high as third overall in the opening stages of the race.
Ultimately the battle for the LMP3 class victory came down to the final moments of the race. After leading the class toward the end of the race thanks to a well-timed pit stop to change to slick tires, the safety car proved a tough break for Martin Hippe in the Inter Europol Competition Ligier JS P3. After the race resumed, he had the United Autorsports Ligier JS P3 of Kay van Berlo right on his tail, and the UA car swept past in the closing stages to take the win.
In third place was the Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen Racing entry of Antony Wells and Colin Noble. The pair put in a very strong effort to come back from starting at the rear of the grid to claim the final place on the LMP3 podium.
The Car Guy team claimed a very popular local victory in front of the Japanese fans with its No. 11 Ferrari 488 GT3. After contact in the opening stages of the race, the team made an unscheduled pit stop, dropping them well behind the GT field. But Takeshi Kimura, Kei Cozzolino and James Calado all drove strongly during the race, ensuring Car Guy claimed their second GT class victory in succession.
In second place was the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi, Ozz Negri Jr. and Francesco Piovanetti. They also had a challenging opening phase of the race after dropping to the back of the order, before fighting their way back, making their second place all the more impressive.
In third place was the Tian Shi Racing Team Audi R8 LMS of Xu Wei, Max Wiser and Zhang Ya Qi. They were also the top GT Am entry.
The Asian Le Mans Series now has a month’s break now before the teams head to Thailand for the 4 Hours of Buriram on January 12. The race there will be held on the Saturday to coincide with Children’s Day in Thailand.