Posted On 09 Dec 2017
Rnd#2 2017/2018 Asian Le Mans Series (4-Hours of Fuji)
Fuji International Speedway, Japan
1-3 December, 2017
Having secured the Silver Cup trophy in Paris just days before for his result in the 2017 Blancpain GT Series Asia, Hong Kong’s Shaun Thong was fired up for his return to Japan for the second round of the 2017/2018 Asian Le Mans Series behind the wheel of the Taiwan Beer GH Motorsport Ligier LMP3.
Hot off their second-placed finish during the season-opener at Zhuhai in late October, Thong and team-mate Hanns Lin were looking for a strong haul of points as they pushed for the LMP3 series lead heading into the Christmas break.
Joined in Fuji by Chinese Formula 3 driver Ye Hong Li, the trio struggled through practice and qualifying with a string of technical challenges, the last of which kept them from recording a single lap in qualifying, forcing them to start rear-of-field for the 4-hour Fuji endurance event, something which ultimately didn’t phase Thong.
Lin started the green, red and white Ligier JS P3, moving up the order to hand the car to Thong during the first stop within striking distance of the leaders. With their title rivals in the KCMG LMP3 finding trouble early, Thong knew that he was in a position to not only strike at top step of the Fuji podium, but also be in a position to lead the championship at the mid-point of the season.
His stints were inspiring, the 22-year old clearly the fastest LMP3 driver on the circuit, at times more than a second a lap faster than his rivals, his best coming just prior to the two hour mark of the race, where he’d opened up a gap of almost a minute and a half over his nearest rivals.
With a bit over an hour to go, he hit pit lane to hand the car to Ye to complete the four-hour journey, but sadly the dream result fell just 20-minutes short, a broken drive-shaft ending their run after recovering from a drive-through penalty for a pit lane infringement late in the race, dropping them from a certain podium finish.
4-Hours of Fuji (Rnd#2 Asian Le Mans Series)
Fuji International Speedway, Japan (2 December, 2017)
1. 37. Liu/Rizzo/Derani (Ligier JS P2 LMP2) – 1:32.102
2. 8. Richelmi/Newey/Laurent (Oreca/Nissan LMP2) – 1:32.259
3. 7. Cheng/Jaafar (Oreca/Nissan LMP2) – 1:32.698
4. 33. Mori/Asmer/Andrews (Ligier JS P2 LMP2) – 1:33.610
5. 18. Burdon/Prette/Wei (Ligier JS P3 LMP3) – 1:35.255
7. 1. Lok/Descombes/Bradley (Ligier JS P3 LMP3) – 1:36.470
DNQ. 11. Hanss Lin/Shaun Thong/Ye Hong Li (Taiwan Beer Ligier JS P3 LMP3)
4-Hours of Fuji (3 December, 2017)
1. 8. Richelmi/Newey/Laurent (Oreca/Nissan LMP2) – 149-laps
2. 37. Liu/Rizzo/Derani (Ligier JS P2 LMP2) +60.354
3. 7. Cheng/Jaafar (Oreca/Nissan LMP2) – 147-laps
4. 4. Konopka/Calko/Breukers (Ligier JS P2 LMP2) – 145-laps
5. 6. Cosmo/Byrne (Ligier JS P3 LMP3) – 141-laps
10. 65. Khoo/Ang/Winslow (Ligier JS P2 LMP2) – 136-laps
11. 99. Sano/Kamimura/Shirasaka (Ligier JS P3 LMP3) – 124-laps
DNF. 11. Hanss Lin/Shaun Thong/Ye Hong Li (Taiwan Beer Ligier JS P3 LMP3) – 128-laps
2017/2018 Asian Le Mans Series – calendar
27-29 October, 2017 – Zhuhai International Circuit, China
1-3 December, 2017 – Fuji International Speedway, Japan
11-13 January, 2018 – Chang International Circuit, Thailand
2-4 February, 2018 – Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia