Penalised Carlin loses first sportscar win since 2001 in Shanghai

James Newbold
Penalised Carlin loses first sportscar win since 2001
Penalised Carlin loses first sportscar win since 2001

Single-seater regulars Carlin missed out on a first sportscar win since 2001 in the Asian Le Mans Series in Shanghai, after a post-race penalty dropped it to third.

Carlin's expansion into prototype racing in LMP2 this year was its first in sportscars since a single season in the Porsche Supercup in 2001, winning once with Sacha Maassen.

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But it endured a trying European Le Mans Series campaign (pictured above), with a best finish of ninth at Barcelona, and has entered the four-round Asian series with the aim of winning the guaranteed slot on the grid at next year's Le Mans 24 Hours that comes with the championship.

A last-lap pass from Harry Tincknell - sharing Carlin's Dallara P217 with Ben Barnicoat and Jack Manchester - on Roman Rusinov's Algarve Pro-run G-Drive Oreca (pictured below) looked to have secured victory in the first round of the four-race Asian series.

But when Barnicoat was found to have exceeded his maximum driving time by six minutes and 36 seconds, Carlin was handed a penalty of three laps plus 51 seconds, promoting the Rusinov, James French and Leonard Hoogenboom car.

After ex-Formula 1 driver Roberto Merhi beat Tincknell to pole by 0.051s in Eurasia Motorsport's Ligier JSP217, the Spaniard's team-mate Aidan Read led French and Manchester in the opening stint, before losing the lead in the first pitstop phase to French.

But progressively worsening tyre-wear at the conclusion of French's double stint allowed Barnicoat - in for Manchester - to move into the lead for the first time, only for a safety car and full course yellow just after half-distance to eradicate Manchester's advantage and condense the top three.

Penalised Carlin loses first sportscar win since 2001
Penalised Carlin loses first sportscar win since 2001

Nick Foster, sharing the Eurasia Ligier with Merhi and Read, quickly passed Hoogenboom and Manchester when racing resumed, only for Hoogenboom to move back ahead shortly afterwards.

The G-Drive car continued to lead in Rusinov's hands heading into the final hour until Barnicoat capitalised on an error from Rusinov at the Turn 14 hairpin.

But the advantage swung back towards G-Drive when Tincknell entered the fray with 28 minutes to go, Rusinov staying aboard when he pitted two laps later and resuming in front.

Tincknell hunted Rusinov down and made what appeared to be the winning move on the final tour at the Turn 13 right-hander leading onto the long back straight.

But what would have been only the second win for the Dallara in an ACO-sanctioned series - after SMP Racing's ELMS victory at Paul Ricard in August 2017 - proved short-lived when the stewards intervened.

Merhi, Foster and Read finished second, ensuring three different marques filled the top three positions.

LMP3 honours were claimed by reigning champion Inter Europol Competition, Martin Hippe and Nigel Moore beating the lead LMP2-Am car of former F2 racer Arjun Maini, John Farano and Andrew Higgins to fifth overall.

Meanwhile Aston Martin came out on top in the GT bout, with the D'station Racing Vantage GT3 shared by Ross Gunn, Satoshi Hoshino and Tomonobu Fuji finishing 10th overall.

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