Pole, win, & a podium for Inception Racing at Asian Le Mans season opener weekend
Inception Racing claimed a win, P2, and accumulated 44 points during the opening weekend (February 12 - 13) at Dubai Autodrome across the two races, and head into the final weekend with a one point lead. The sister #42 McLaren also bagged a handful of points, narrowly missing out on podium finishes across both races, but now sit fourth in the series’ team standings.
Both the Optimum Motorsport-run cars began their preparations with free practice in the week which lead onto qualifying, which saw Ben in #7 put the 720S on class pole, with Joe claiming tenth in GT. A new qualifying format saw both cars head straight back out to the second qualifying session - which set the grid for Sunday’s race, with Ben qualifying P3 and Joe 14th.
Brendan and Nick were tasked with the first stint for Saturday’s race, with the latter gaining five places during the opening laps but gained a 10-second time penalty due to disrespecting the grid alignment during the race start.
Both Bronze drivers pitted after an hour of running, handing over to teammates Ollie and Andrew. Watson, the Optimum Motorsport rookie, showed his pace as he moved up to eighth down the back straight after a tight battle with TF Sport’s Aston Martin, moving up to seventh just one lap later before pitting for the final driver change to Joe. Meanwhile, Millroy fought through the field, running P2 as he handed over to Ben for the final two hours.
Clear of any challenges, Ben jumped to first in class with over 90-minutes of the race remaining, with Joe in #42 boxing under yellow flag conditions for a change of tyres. As the race got into the final hour of action, Joe fought hard with the Ferrari of AF Corse for P3, but had to settle for fourth as the chequered flag was waved.
Although having qualified for Sunday’s race third and 14th in class, the teams started P2 and P13 following a late withdrawal from another GT car. Again, Brendan and Nick were on starting duties and both gained position within the first few laps. Nick’s fortune from Saturday’s race wasn’t to be repeated as contact saw him spin and drop to 21st.
A mega drive from Nick during the rest of his 60-minute stint saw car #42 climb back up into the points to eighth as Brendan pitted to Ollie before the full course fell under yellow flag conditions. Pitting under the FCY, Andrew took over from Nick and Ollie drove through the pits to reset his driver time to avoid any potential penalties.
Clear runs for both drivers saw the halfway mark approach on the race before pitting under yet another yellow flag. Joe and Ben jumped in and their stellar pace meant that the Optimum Motorsport’s McLaren’s were flying in formation, hunting down Oman Racing’s Aston Martin.
A strategy call from the team saw Joe pit in the hopes of an undercut on the sister Inception entry who now was running in third, and with fresh tyres and his driver time reset, he was ready to chase Ben.
Entering into the closing stages of the race the fight for P2 continued, with a potential double podium on the cards as class leaders AF Corse gained a drive through penalty for track limit violations. However, it wasn’t meant to be as repeating the same feat as the day before, Joe crossed the line fourth, with Ben taking second.
The team leaves Dubai with Inception Racing leading the Championship on 44 points (25 for the race win plus 1 for pole and 18 for second), and Optimum Motorsport fourth with 24 points.
The action continues this weekend (February 19-20) at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, with the cars heading out on track for private testing on Thursday 17.
“It’s been a great weekend, we’re leading the championship by one point going into Abu Dhabi. Saturday’s win got us off to a good start however we got unlucky with the full course yellow earlier on in the race on Sunday.
"Halfway through the second race it didn’t look to be going our way at all, with the fuel saving during my stint and then another full course yellow, but then Ben got in and put in two awesome stints to get us back into second. Brendan had a mega start to both races and drove really well as always.”