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November 2018

4 hours of Shanghai: not an easy start but we’ll be back!

My first weekend in the Asian Le Mans Series didn’t go as planned. At the Shanghai International Circuit, we ended up seventh with United Autosports in what may well be the most difficult weekend of my career. We just couldn’t get the car up to speed, which resulted in just a handfull of points.

A New team

It was a weekend of change, here in the Asian Le Mans Series. I could quickly find my way within the team. United Autosports works differently than I’m used to but it didn’t take long to find my place. Unfortunately, the car wasn’t were we wanted it to be. We could see quite quickly we were lacking pace.

Learning quickly

It’s not easy at a new track, a new team in a new series and with a car you have to share with two other drivers. You have very limited tracktime and in our case, not enough time to fix the issues with the car. My team mate Matt Bell managed to qualify in fourth place, which was impressive. On new tyres, the car was a different animal and actually quite good. The race is driven on old tyres and full tanks however, so we knew it would be difficult to stay there.

Not an easy race

Matt took the lead in a chaotic first lap but after the first stop, things went south. An ill-timed safety car meant we lost a lap and once I took the wheel we were very much out of contention for any big points. The car was difficult to drive and although I managed to bring the gap to the car in front back from 90 to 40 seconds, a seventh place was the result.

Of course, I’m not here to finish seventh but this is the way it goes sometimes. Again, I’ve learned a lot this weekend and we’ll take all of this with us to Fuji, we’re we’ll have our chance to redeem ourselves next week. I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure things will be better!

Pole and podium in a great weekend at Sebring

Last weekend, I drove my first race in the United States. At the Sebring circuit, we drove the IMSA Sportscar Encore with K2R Motorsports and that went extraordinary well! On Sunday morning, we got pole position and on Sunday afternoon, we missed victory by a small margin to ANSA Motorsport.

Lap record

Two weeks ago, we tested at Sebring and that was already a very good start and this form continued this weekend. Free practice went very well and on Sunday morning, I got to drive in qualifying. The car was handling beautifully and I was able to put it on pole position. We also nearly took the lap record, so things couldn’t go any better!

First stint in the lead

I did the start as well and our strategy was to build a gap as soon as possible, so we could save fuel while maintaining that gap. The first stint went exactly to plan and after an hour of racing, we had half a minute on the entire field. The car was perfect and we had great pace, even while saving fuel we were the quickest car in the race. Unfortunately, the safety car wiped our advantage away after the first hour.

Drive through

We decided to pit and hand over the car to my teammate Jim McGuire. That stop didn’t go too well, which cost us two drive through penalties. That meant we had to hand over the lead of the race but a new safety car made sure we were right there with the leaders. But even with Matt Bell behind the wheel in our third stint, we couldn’t regain the lead.

A great weekend

Missing victory is a shame but overall, this was just a fantastic weekend. It all just went like clockwork and it’s a great way of being introduced to racing in the States. Let’s hope we can do this many more times!