Aidan Read put in another stellar performance at the helm of the #36 Ligier JS P217 – setting the lap record of The Bend in the process. Located just 90 minutes from Adelaide, The Bend Motorsports Park is Australia’s newest and most impressive motorsport facility – a 7.77km asphalt snake, packing in 34 turns. The new race lap record, set by Read during the four-hour race on the GT circuit, now stands at 2:38.637.
Read’s pace helped the #36 Eurasia Motorsport crew secure the runner-up position having been one of the fastest cars on track throughout the 4-hour race. Proudly sporting a “Team Australia” livery to celebrate the ACO-endorsed Asian Le Mans Series’ arrival in Australia for the first time, #36 was in more than capable hands for the 4 Hours of The Bend event.
The focus on Aidan and Eurasia’s #36 entry began on Thursday. The Hon David Ridgway MLC, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment visited the newly-opened motorsport facility, with Read and the patriotic yellow-gold and green #36 Ligier centre stage for the media call, which included several demonstration laps by the youngster. Official running began on Friday, and from the outset it was evident Aidan and the team were going to do their host nation proud.
After his impressive performance last time out in Shanghai, alongside Merhi and Foster, Aidan was called up for starting driver duties. The #36 LMP2 entry qualified 5th overall, courtesy of Merhi’s lap time of 2:37.262. Aidan got a superb start, instantly putting pressure on the #34 Inter Europol car of Jakub Smiechowski – enough to promote himself to 4th where he remained until Carlin’s Jack Manchester went off less than 30 minutes into the race. Aidan Read then took the race lead after Eurasia teammate Dan Gaunt took the opportunity to pit the #1 car under FCY conditions, as did their championship rival.
After 50 minutes, Read peeled off for new tyres, returning third behind the #26 G-Drive entry and evidently so focused on reclaiming the race lead that he managed to add a new racing lap record for the recently opened South Australia race circuit to his list of achievements.
The race played out with the #36 never leaving the overall top 3. Disappointingly, some unfortunate timed full course yellow flag and safety car periods meant Read and his co-drivers were consistently playing catch up; each time managing to recover to where they should have been – instead of leading. Read was just seconds away from the pit lane when the safety car was called to recover the burnt out RLR Oreca, meaning the pit lane was closed for several laps. Therefore, Read had to work extremely hard to manage his fuel and tyres before finally pitting, but under green flag conditions once again putting the car on the back foot.Nick Foster brought the #36 Racing Australia car home P2 after four hours of running, although Read could have undoubtedly been celebrating victory had the cards fallen differently.
“It was a good race, I really enjoyed it overall – a great weekend and happy to be at The Bend. The result, in terms of car performance, I’m very happy, from the way the race worked out, the strategy and the combination of pit stops by our competition just didn’t work in our favour.”“In the end, second is a good result but we know we have the speed in the car and the drivers to fight for the race lead. Unfortunately, after two hours we were very out of sync with the other cars in terms of strategy, which meant that we were waiting and hoping for a bit of Safety Car luck to put us back in the game and able to fight.”“It was just the fact that we went out of sync that cost us the result but also, in the same breath the engineering of the car was excellent and I was very happy to put in a record lap of The Bend”
Round three of the 2019/20 Asian Le Mans Series takes place at Sepang in Malaysia from 14th-16th February 2020.