Sean Gelael and Antonio Giovinazzi took their Jagonya Ayam with Eurasia Oreca 03R Nissan to the top step of the Asian Le Mans Series (AsLMS) podium at the end of a nail-biting three-hour endurance race on the Chang International Circuit in Thailand (Sunday 10 January).
Indonesian racer Gelael and Italy’s Giovinazzi led from pole position until a puncture caused by debris forced an unscheduled pit stop that put the bright yellow and red-liveried #9 entry almost one lap down on the lead battle.
A reactive strategic decision to refuel while replacing the punctured tyre put Eurasia Motorsport out of sync with the opposition, but Gelael found himself in third overall after the first round of pit stops, before retaking the initiative and pulling out a healthy advantage on pure pace alone.
In fact, Gelael had so much in hand that Giovinazzi emerged from the driver-change in second position and, like his teammate, the Italian was on maximum attack for the duration of his stint to receive the chequered flag in first position.
The sister #99 Oreca LMP2 prototype of Nick de Bruijn, Richard Bradley and William Lok came home in fourth position and was unfortunate to miss out on a podium finish, as two laps were lost when a broken tail light forced Eurasia Motorsport to carry out regulatory repairs.
Dutchman de Bruijn started the 180-minute Thai enduro and led comfortably after Gelael’s puncture, putting space between himself and the rest of the field before handing the reins to the on-form Lok, while 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Richard Bradley, spent the final third of the race trying to recover lost ground.
Delighted and relieved, Eurasia Motorsport Team Principal, Mark Goddard, said: “It was an quite an exciting, yet stressful afternoon and I think everybody involved with Eurasia Motorsport is delighted to leave Buriram with a race win. All of our drivers – Sean Gelael, Antonio Giovinazzi, Nick de Bruijn, Richard Bradley and William Lok – were extremely good and the team performed exceptionally well so, without that puncture, I believe it would have been an easy victory. In the end, overcoming adversity and fighting back makes the result all the more satisfying.
“With the #99 car, Nick started and did a good job in second position, then William took over and one of the rear lights failed. Under the regulations you have to repair them, so we had no option but to pull the car into the garage. We lost two laps and, given that the car ran like clockwork thereafter and all three drivers performed so well, I think a podium went amiss. However, we now look forward to the next round on the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, where I hope for more success with the #99 car.”