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January 2019

A huge thirst and a broken gearbox in Thailand

The third round of the Asian Le Mans Series was held at the Buriram circuit in Thailand. With the United Autosports team we ended up in fifth, after a disappointing ending of the race. For a long while we looked set for a podium but a broken gearbox set us back in the last hour.

Testing

We arrived early in Thailand, so we were able to get to know the track pretty quickly. We had done extensive testing on Monday and Tuesday and had a private session on Thursday. That way, we could get a good amount of mileage in and our gentleman driver was able to get
up to speed. We had a lot of confidence going into the weekend and looking at our speed, we thought a podium place would be possible.

Qualifying and the start

My teammate Matt Bell drove in qualifying on Friday and ended up in fifth, which was a fine position considering the fact we didn’t do a second run to save tyres. Matt also drove the start and took the lead after a couple of laps. He held the lead for his entire stint and after his stop, our gentleman driver took over. His stint didn’t go as we’d hoped and we lost a lap and a half and dropped down to fifth.

Thirsty

Winning was out of the question but when I took the wheel for the last two hours of the race, I still had high hopes for a podium. By the way, driving wasn’t easy because our drinking system wasn’t working and with temperatures going into the fifty degrees Celsius, that’s not a good thing. We couldn’t do anything about it, so during my last stop I had to quickly drink some water, so at least I was a bit hydrated.

A broken gearbox

My pace was fine. I went up from fifth to third and with an hour to go, we had a healthy lead of 30 seconds to fourth place when the exhaust broke. This caused the compression box to melt, which broke the gearbox. We decided to go for the finish but we had to drive in fourth gear all the way. We lost a lot of lap time and dropped back to fifth.

The championship is done and this sucks. We can’t take the title in the Asian Le Mans Series because of a technical problem and that’s very disappointing. The only thing we can do now, is take revenge at Sepang, which will be the last race of the season. That one takes place in the last weekend of February.