Garage 59 completed the first leg of the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series with a podium finish in the second of the two races at the Dubai Autodrome. It was the #88 Aston Martin Vantage driven by Alexander West, Maxime Martin and Valentin Hasse-Clot that took third place on Sunday, notching up the first podium of the new racing season for Garage 59 and for Aston Martin.
The first round of the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series took place on Saturday. Although both cars were looking good during the first half of the four-hour race, a mid-race full course yellow put the brakes on their charge and it was fifth at the flag for the #88 Vantage and only 17th for the #89 car of Mike Benham, Marvin Kirchhöfer and Yuki Nemoto, which also had a puncture to contend with.
A small Balance of Performance change overnight helped all of the Aston Martin runners and the Garage 59 squad came out fighting for Sunday’s four-hour race.
With Martin and Kirchhöfer behind the wheel of the two Garage 59 Vantages, it was always going to be a fast start and as soon as the race went green the two of them offered up a masterclass in overtaking. Within three laps, Maxime had risen from fourth place to be breathing down the neck of the GT leader, while Marvin was up to fourth and filling the mirrors of Giancarlo Fisichella’s Ferrari.
As the team cycled through the drivers, the pace remained fast and furious. With all of the drivers putting in trouble-free stints it was just reward to see Martin cross the line with a third place podium finish. A Top 10 for the sister car completed the Dubai leg of the series.
The results from Dubai put the #88 Vantage in fourth place in the Championship standings with two more races to go. The top four GT entries receive an invitation to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans so the stakes are high!
“This is an amazing result for the team,” said Martin. “My team mates did a great job today. A good start, then a strong stint from Valentin and then Alex was consistent, made no mistakes and was fast! Fifth place yesterday and third today should give us a good amount of championship points to take to Abu Dhabi with us for the next rounds.”
“Just like yesterday, the whole team did a faultless job both on track and in the pits,” said Hasse-Clot. “We stayed out of trouble, avoided penalties, ran at a good pace and had a strong, reliable car. These are all the ingredients for a good race and it was great to be rewarded with a podium finish.”
The #89 Aston Martin Vantage squad are in 11th place in the Championship and they have their sights set on the podium in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s great to be back after a difficult 2020 and I’m very happy to have this opportunity with Garage 59,” said Kirchhöfer. “Yesterday’s race was one of those events where you get all the bad luck in one go; everything from an awkwardly timed full course yellow to a puncture. Today was smooth. I knew the pace would be hard for Mike but I was impressed with how well he managed it. We have all learnt a lot to take forward to Abu Dhabi. We’re going to keep our heads down and work hard and aim for the podium next weekend.”
Rounds three and four of the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series take place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th February.