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ALMS

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.

Our first victory in the Asian Le Mans Series!

What a fantastic weekend we had in Fuji! In a very tough race, we took our first victory of the Asian Le Mans season with United Autosports and it feels great! I had to take a lot of risks in this race and while that’s usually something you try to avoid in endurance racing, it paid off big time.

A dry start

From the very first laps of the weekend, it was clear we had the speed in the car. I’d never been to Fuji but luckily, we hit the ground running and I could do qualifying. I set the third time in the LMP3 class, which meant we had a fine starting position for the race. My teammate Matt Bell drove the first stint and had a great rhythm, when the rain started to fall at the end of his run.

Second place in the first half

We waited for quite some time before we switched to wets because we wanted to be absolutely sure the rain would stay. When teammate Christian England took over the wheel for his stint, we were in second place. Christian also drove a very good stint and when it was my turn to take the wheel, the track started to dry.

Taking risks

On a drying track I was able to close the gap to the leaders but when you have only one dry line, overtaking means taking a huge risk. Luckily for us, the safety car came out and I was able to have a go at passing the leaders at the restart. It worked but immediately after I was pushed wide on a wet kerb by a GT, which cost me four seconds. I had to do it all over again.

That winning feeling

I could hear the team cheering me on in my ear when I chased after the leaders and with less than half an hour to go, I had another opportunity. It was now or never and this time I stayed in front and kept the lead until the flag fell. It’s feels amazing to be winning again and this victory means we’re now second in the championship.

The next race is in Thailand on the 12th of January at the Buriram track. But for now, we go into the holidays with a win under our belt, which is a great way of ending 2018. We have plenty to look forward to in 2019!

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!

Kay van Berlo signs for United Autosport for Asian Le Mans Series

We’re going to have a busy winter! I’m very happy to announce that I’ll be driving for United Autosports in the Asian Le Mans Series, starting in November. A great next step in my career, which will allow me to build on my experience at a frontrunning team, on very highly rated tracks.

My Teammates

After a great season with Eurointernational in the ELMS, I’m already looking forward to the winter. Normally, a driver doesn’t do much in the winter months but that won’t be the case for me! I’ll be driving four races in the Asian Le Mans Series for United Autosports and I’ll be sharing the car with two very talented and experienced drivers: Englishman Matt Bell and American Jim McGuire. I can learn a lot from those guys.

United Autosports

I couldn’t have had a better team than United Autosports. They’ve had a lot of success in the past and, among other things, two LMP3-titles in the European Le Mans Series. Driving for this team in Asia gives me lots of new opportunities and hopefully, something nice for the future. I’ll try my hardest to drive myself in the picture!

The Tracks

The Asian Le Mans Series consists of four races, each four hours long. We’ll be driving at Shanghai, Fuji, Buriram and Sepang. Each track is very challenging and highly rated. I’ve had the chance of looking at these tracks in the simulator already and I think we’re going to have some fun there.

Expectations

It’s a little early to be having expectations for the coming winter season. I don’t know who’s going to be driving where, so it’s difficult to say what the competition will look like. What I do know, is that I’ll be driving for a very strong team, with two great drivers. Hopefully, we’ll be able to put on a good show!

The Asian Le Mans Series calendar will look like this:

  • 23-25 November – Shanghai, China
  • 7-9 December – Fuji, Japan
  • 10-12 Januari – Buriram, Thailand
  • 22-24 Februari – Sepang, Malaysia