After a grueling yet faultless performance by Aidan, his teammates Nick Foster and Roberto Merhi and the Eurasia team where the #36 Ligier JS P217 crossed the line with Aidan at the wheel, some 25 seconds in front of the nearest challenger the sweet taste of victory turned to the bitter feeling of defeat as a post-race penalty relegated Aidan to second position by 10.9 seconds after four hours of racing.
Aidan had earlier taken over the car from Roberto Merhi in the lead of the race, after the Spanish former-F1 driver had followed on from fellow Australian Nick Foster’s work to put the car firmly in contention for the win.
With an hour and forty minutes to go of the four-hour day-to-night race, there was still much work for Aidan to do, and do it he did; retaining #36’s lead whilst manoeuvring through the various classes of traffic circulating Sepang’s floodlit track before making his first pit stop. Read resumed his race in first position and set to work widening the advantage over his race and championship rivals.
However, with just six minutes remaining, the expected victory was cruelly taken away. The rear lights on the prototype suddenly extinguished themselves, despite having been rigorously flashing away through the gloomy and treacherous conditions earlier on.
Aidan, unaware of the issue, pushed on the take the chequered flag first, for what should have been a sensational and well-earned win for the #36 crew. It was only on his way to the top step of the podium was it discovered that the stewards’ had deemed the failure of the rear lights a breach of safety regulations and imposed a 36-second post-race penalty, relegating him to second, losing the victory by just 10.9 seconds.
Clearly devastated by the disappointing decision, Aidan had little to say other than to stress his frustration after such a strong performance: “We totally deserved to win today, we ran a perfect race in difficult conditions and led pretty much all the way, to lose like this is really unbelievable.”
The final round of the championship takes place next weekend 23/24 February with Aidan now third in the 2019/20 Asian Le Mans Series driver standings. There he will be chasing the win that was so deserved out in Sepang, in a push to secure the championship with Eurasia Motorsport.