The 2018 Asian Le mans series kicks of its new season in Shanghai and after a slow start the series is now firing on all cylinders. In a fast and frantic qualifying session, Pipo Derani has claimed pole position in the Spirit of Race Ligier JS P2 for the Agile 4 Hours of Shanghai. After regularly being the quickest driver on track throughout the 2017/18 season, Derani has been the driver to beat all weekend.
Behind him the qualifying times are very tight with 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series Champion Harrison Newey in the #24 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2 in second, and 2016/17 LMP3 Champion Phil Hanson in third.
It will be Series newcomers Inter Europol, and Jakub Smiechowski that will lead the way in the LMP3 Class in their #13 Ligier JS P3. The Polish team have tasted success recently, winning the final round of the European Le Mans Series in the same class. In second place on the LMP3 grid will be 2016/17 LMP3 Class winner, Nigel Moore in the #65 Viper Niza Racing Ligier JS P3. Starting third in class will be the #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 driven by Wayne Boyd.
In the second 15-minute qualifying session of the day, it was the #88 TianShi Racing Team Audi being driven by Dries Vanthoor that was quick from the start. The team has had a tough start to the season with an engine problem hitting their second Audi during private testing on Thursday. Since then they have managed to have a Mercedes AMG GT3 sent some 1000 miles from the team’s base in Zhuhai to the track here in Shanghai. Having missed both free practice sessions they made it to the track just in time for qualifying. Max Wiser put in a solid lap to qualifying the car in 4th place in the GT class.
After not setting a lap time at the start of the session, James Calado put in a flyer with just one-minute left to set the second quickest time in the class in the #11 CarGuy Ferrari 488 GT3. In 3rd place, and just 0.089 of a second slower than Calado, was the second Ferrari 488, the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi.
In the Porsche Endurance Trophy, it was Benny Simonsen in the #16 Modena Motorsports, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Behind him was EKS Motorsports #59 entry of Lu Wen Long and the #21 OpenRoad Racing entry of Francis Tjia.