In what was an impressive opening race of the 2019-20 Asian Le Mans Series in Shanghai, China for Eurasia Motorsport, Aidan Read put in a stellar performance at the wheel of the #36 Ligier to help secure the runner-up position after leading a good portion of the four-hour race.
For the young Australian, the opportunity to race alongside teammates Roberto Merhi and Nick Foster was an opportunity not to be missed, with all three drivers showing great pace and race craft throughout the race weekend.
Following the ADAC GT Masters programme in Europe, Aidan is central to the Asian Le Mans Series campaign and with the team securing the pole position and second place in Sunday’s race, it’s clear that this very much is a championship winning combination.
The action got underway on Friday with paid practice and then the official first practice session. Aidan and the team proved to be quick from the outset and come qualifying on Saturday afternoon, Roberto claimed pole for Sunday’s race.
Aidan was charged with the first two stints and starting the pole, making a superb getaway from the rolling start to lead the race from the #26 of James French into the first turn. By the fifth lap, Aidan had extended the margin to five seconds and this ebbed and flowed as he and his rival encountered traffic.
With 45 minutes complete, the team pitted the Ligier for fuel only with Aidan having to complete the second stint of the race on relatively worn Michelins. The reasoning behind this was to give the team additional flexibility with tyres as the race unfolded.
The #26 entry got the jump on Aidan in the first pitstop by short-fuelling and he resumed in second position just ahead of the Carlin entry of Ben Barnicoat. With the tyres starting to fade, Aidan was forced to concede the position, tucking in behind to complete the stint in third place.
The race played out with first Nick and then Roberto driving, but the pivotal moment of the race came when the Inter Europol Endurance team were called in for a lengthy stop-go penalty.
With access to the Eurasia pit box severely compromised, the team were forced to put the car onto dollies to reach the fuel hose. This ultimately cost the team and Aidan the victory, as the time lost would have played into the hands of Roberto later in the race on fresh tyres.
“Overall the race was well-executed from the driving side and we managed to put ourselves in a really good position with tyre usage,” Aidan said. “Unfortunately, the pit issue mean we couldn’t use the strategy as we’d hoped in the last few hours with Roberto to go for the win having lost time.
“From my side, I’m really happy with how the race went, the start was good from the pole and the pace we had in the first stint was excellent. We double-stinted the tyres for options later in the race for Roberto and Nick, and while it made it harder for me, it left us in a strong position.
“P2 is good from the pole, we’ll happily take the points in what’s been a fine start to the Asian season. It shows we have the pace and well capable of winning races and it’s a solid points haul and I’m already looking forward to the next race in Australia.”
Round two of the championship takes place at The Bend in Australia in January.