Podium and points haul for Inception racing
Following on from success last weekend at Dubai Autodrome, February 12 - 13, Inception Racing finished the penultimate race of the 2022 Asian Le Mans season with another podium and a huge points haul, giving them a 13-point lead ahead of Sunday afternoon’s finale.
Similarly to the schedule of the week prior, Thursday and Friday hosted free practice sessions, allowing both the #7 and 42 trios to get their bearings around the 5.554km circuit. With preparations over and qualifying to contend with, the #7 squad headed out to put their McLaren 720S GT3 6th in GT, with Joe setting a lap which would see him start 18th on the grid for the afternoon’s race.
Brendan and Nick, were once again on starting duties. The early stages of the race saw both cars steer clear of any issues, with Nick launching through the field gaining five places and Brendan battling amongst the top 10.
The latter stages of their stints saw the intervention of the yellow flag, caused by debris in the third sector. After just over an hour, both Brendan and Nick, of whom were running P6 and P8, respectively, yielded to their Silver co-drivers of Ollie and Andrew, rejoining the race eighth and ninth.
A duel between the McLaren’s and D’Station’s Aston Martin was soon to be over as both Ollie and Andrew made excellent passes on the #77 entry to move up to P4 and P5.
As the midway point loomed, the action was paused due to a prototype car fire at turn 9. Fortunately, the driver was unharmed and with the race halted for over 30 minutes, Ollie and Andrew looked to jump back in under the glaring sun of the United Arab Emirates.
Upon the safety car restart, Ollie took the lead with Watson following closely behind in second. Gaining on his fellow McLaren driver, Watson battled hard with the out of positions AF Corse Ferrari, lunging down the inside of the corner to hunt down Ollie for what could’ve been the #42 team’s first win.
The final driver change saw the newly signed Lexus Factory Driver of Ben Barnicoat and McLaren Factory Driver, Joe Osborne head out as the sun began to set over Yas Marina.
Car #7 looked to make a move on the Haupt Racing Mercedes for P2, making the overtake down into turn 9 with Joe looking to repeat Ben’s fortune. Both cars came in once more for their mandatory pit stop with 34 minutes of the race remaining, including the Haupt Mercedes to serve their eight second stop and go penalty.
Rejoining the field and with the final few laps to go, Ben was chasing the leading Porsche 911 however, had to settle for second position, with Joe, once again, just outside of the podium finishers in fourth.
A haul of 18 points from race 1 of the weekend for Inception racing sees them lead the GTChampionship by 13 points, with Optimum Motorsport sitting in fourth with a total of 36 points.
Tomorrow holds the grand finale of the Asian Le Mans season, with the GT Champions taking home that automatic Le Mans 24 Hours invitation, with lights out at 16:30PM local time, 12:30PM UK time. Saturday morning’s second qualifying session will mean that #7 will start 5th, and #42 in 18th.
“We had the ingredients to win, but a bit of bad luck with the red flag and regulations allowed the Porsche to jump us late in the race. It was a mega job by the whole team. We head into the final race tomorrow with a 13-point lead in the Championship.”
“It was another fourth place for us! This was a great result from 18th on the grid. We had a lot of fun fighting through the pack on the limit. It was a flawless performance from Nick, Joe, and the entire Optimum crew! We go again tomorrow!”