Antonio Giovinazzi and Sean Gelael won the final round of the Asian Le Mans Series in Sepang yesterday. The Italian-Indonesian duo dominated the 3 Hours of Malaysia, leading the race from lights to flag and claiming 3rd place in the final standings of the Asian Series. Giovinazzi is now heading to Europe to join Prema Powerteam and prepare for the 2016 GP2 Series.
The 3 Hours of Malaysia completed Giovinazzi’s winter training after his previous win in Buriram, two weeks ago. In the 4th and final event of the 2015/16 Asian Le Mans Series Antonio and Sean again shared the Eurasia Motorsport LMP2 Oreca 03R-Nissan, leading the race from the start. Giovinazzi made a good start from the 2nd row to take the lead and then set his fastest lap (2:01.156( in the early stages before continuing at an average pace of 2:02.5 to open a gap to 2nd placed man Oliver Webb (LMP2 Oreca 03R-Judd). Giovinazzi came into the pits for his first refueling stop after about 50 minutes by which time the gap between the first 2 cars was over one and a half minutes. He went out behind Webb, who led for 1 lap before he made his pit stop. The Race Director then awarded Antonio a one minute stop and go penalty because one of the mechanics’ helmet visors was not fully closed during the pit stop.
Despite the penalty, the 22-year old Italian got back out in the lead, completing his stint at the halfway point and handing the lead to his co-driver Gelael. Webb also came in for his team’s driver change on the same lap, following Antonio into the pit lane to give his car to Nicholas Leutwiler. The two cars rejoined in the same positions and Gelael started to open up the gap again, setting an average pace of 2:03.00 to win the race 1.43 ahead of the Swiss.
“Slightly over three years on I’m with the same people in the same place, celebrating a victory,” said a happy Giovinazzi. “We’ve come a very long way thanks to the support of Jagonya Ayam: in December 2012 I won a race and the championship here with Eurasia Motorsport in the final event of the Formula Pilota China Series. Today, Sean Gelael and I are sharing the victory in the 3 Hours of Malaysia. So, I am so happy with this result, especially as I am together with people I met in the first steps of my racing career.
Today Sean and I have demonstrated once again how in tune we are. We didn’t lose our cool, despite the unpredictable nature of the race. We just kept to our strategy, pushing just enough to keep our lead even after a pit stop. This has been the winning factor, meaning we never lost control of the race, despite needing one stop more than we expected.”
After this race, Giovinazzi and Gelael are both waiting for the start of their first season in the GP2 Series. Their first appointment is in March, from 9th to 11th, for the collective test in Barcelona: “Now we’ve claimed 3rd place in the Asian Le Mans Series, it’s time to start planning the upcoming GP2 Series. The work with my new team, Prema Powerteam, is going to start soon and I feel it will be a great season.”