Asian Le Mans Series – Okayama Qualifying Report
A week of hard work to repair the Drayson Racing Lola after its Laguna Seca crash was rewarded by Jonny Cocker this afternoon in the Asian Le Mans Series qualifying. The Briton took the first ever Asian Le Mans Series pole position for the two races on Saturday and Sunday!
The LMP session started off with only the Tokai University, OAK Racing and Ibanez cars out on the track doing their laps. But only when the Sora Racing Pescarolo and the Oreca AIM came out the times started to drop.
The final minutes saw the teams desperately trying to steal pole position but it was young Jonny Cocker in the Drayson Racing Lola that beat the whole lot and made history by taking the first ever Asian Le Mans Series pole position. Christophe Tinseau was the closest to the Brit, losing out by just a tenth of a second. Nicolas Lapierre managed to take third place at four tenths, while Stefan Mücke’s attempt to set a fast lap almost ended in tears when the German went off the track at turn 1. The Lola Aston returned to the track but went straight into the pit and was unable to improve any further.
Mathieu Lahaye secured the LMP2 pole for OAK Racing and will start from seventh on the grid. The Ibanez Racing Courage will start from ninth place.
Before the LMP cars were released on the track the GT cars went out for their qualiying session.
The Hitotsuyama Team Nova Aston Martin DBR9 had already set fastest lap times in the practice sessions and the team took full advantage of their track knowledge and the Yokohama tires on the DBR9. Despite a good effort Carlo van Dam had to settle for second in the Larbre Competition Saleen S7R. Before the session had started the Dutchman had already predicted the DBR9 would be some 2-3 seconds quicker and it turned out to be just that. Iiri in the #69 Lamborghini took third in class.
Team Hong Kong Racing’s Tomas Enge was out early in the Aston Martin Vantage and the Czech driver was quick from the word go. Only four laps were needed to post a lap time that was not beaten by any other GT2 driver.
Marc Lieb in the Team Felbermayr Proton Porsche 997 GT3 RSR went out later in the session and did whatever he could to beat the provisional pole time, but when the chequered flag came out he was still 0.126s behind in second place.
Dirk Müller lost precious time when he spun into the gravel at the final corner, causing a yellow flag in sector 3. Fortunately for Müller and the Rahal Letterman Team the BMW M3 E92 was pulled out of the gravel and got back on the track, Müller only finished the session fifth in class though. Despite going out late it was the Ferrari F430 GT2 of JimGainer Racing however that secured third place on the GT2 grid, almost six tenths of a second behind the Aston Martin.
UPDATE – 19:45 Okayama time
In the post-qualifying scrutineering both the #61 Hitotsuyama Team Nova Aston Martin DBR9 and the #91 Team Hong Kong Racing were found to be in breach of the technical regulations regarding the rear wing. As a result the GT1 pole position will go to the #50 Larbre Competition Saleen S7R and the GT2 pole is inherited by the #77 Team Felbermayr Proton Porsche 997 GT3 RSR.