The Thunderhead Carlin Racing team have secured a brilliant podium position in the Asian Le Mans Series, their second on the bounce, as round two concluded at The Bend Motorsport Park, Adelaide, Australia. Taking the first pole position for the Dallara P217 in Ben Barnicoat’s capable hands on Saturday, teammates Jack Manchester and Harry Tincknell worked together brilliantly once again to claim a podium for the team after four hours of tense racing, despite a drive through penalty.
Sweltering conditions greeted the team upon their arrival in Adelaide as the country deals with rocketing temperatures and devastating wildfire scenes. Raising above 40 degrees at points the temperatures provided a new challenge to get to grips with for the team around the 35 corner, 7.77km track. Friday brought some respite with wet weather to contend with however the team made the most of the two test sessions and further Free Practice session with them ending the day having set the second quickest time – continuing their pace from Shanghai and once again marking themselves as a contender for the weekend.
Regrouping on Saturday, Free Practice Two was once again a strong showing for the entire team as they finished in second overall. All signs were certainly pointing towards a good qualifying later in the day.
It was Barnicoat who this time would jump behind the wheel and qualify for the Thunderhead Carlin Racing team as eyes remained on the timing screens for the tense 15-minute session; tensions were further heightened when the British racer had a slight off-track excursion. Returning to the pit lane for fresh tyres, Barnicoat re-joined the track with nine minutes left and fantastically set the fastest lap to hold provisional pole position that was unable to be bettered meaning that Barnicoat had brilliantly secured not only the team’s maiden pole position but the first ever pole for the Dallara P217 chassis.
Barnicoat said of qualifying. “We had good pace from the start right up until the end which shows how far we’ve come and how competitive we’ve been in the Asian Le Mans series so far. To get pole position on Saturday was a great feeling for myself and the team and was probably the highlight of the weekend for me personally. Our first pole position in LMP2!”
Lining up at the very front of the grid on Sunday, Manchester took the start of the race as the 4-hour race got underway. Coming under pressure, Manchester held second position well as the first lap drew to an end however he was later involved an incident which resulted in contact with a car ahead and a subsequent drive through penalty that Tincknell was forced to take during his stint. Despite this, the three drivers continued to push incredibly well and fought hard during all their stints to move back up to third where they would cross the line to take their second consecutive podium.
Manchester said of the race, ““It was a weekend of highs and lows with quite a few positives to take away. As a team we made good strides forward and became a better, closer unit. The car was in a good place and everyone worked as a team. The contact during the race was really unfortunate; it was a split-second decision, I got on the dusty stuff and though I braked early, it wasn’t early enough and the car just locked up. It was just one of those things that happens in racing. We’re all really looking forward to Malaysia and Thailand and finishing off the Asian Le Mans Series strongly.”
Barnicoat said, “We can take a lot of positives from the weekend. The race was obviously a bit of a tricky one for us. Jack made a great start from pole position but then got caught up in a traffic incident which ruled us out of contention for the win. It was still great to finish the race with strong pace and get a podium position and some great points in the bag, and at the end of the day we are fighting for the championship, so points make prizes. We’re still sitting third overall, which is a good place to be, and we’re not a million miles behind the leader so a good couple of races in Malaysia and Thailand and we could be back up there. So that’s what we’ll push for, we’ll learn from our mistakes and move forward as a team.”
Tincknell added, “Another podium, more champagne and good points for the championship. Ultimately it was a solid weekend all round. Ben did a great job getting pole position and Jack did a really good start holding second for a really long time. The drive through penalty lost us some time which is hard to get back on a long circuit like The Bend. But overall a lot of positives to take from the team, and a podium is a good way to consolidate in the Asian Le Mans Championship. We’ve all learnt a lot, and we’ll move forward to a double header: back-to-back in Malaysia and Thailand in good spirits.”
The team will be out again next month for the penultimate round of the championship in Sepang, Malaysia before the season draws to a conclusion the following weekend in Thailand.