Bullet Sports Management has entered three of its young talents to the Asian Le Mans Series with reigning champion team G-Drive Racing by Algarve Pro. The highly competitive series with a record grid of 36 cars provides the perfect learning ground for the drivers and allows them to race during the winter months. The opening round of the condensed season took place last weekend at the Dubai Autodrome with two 4-hour races.
Austrian driver Ferdinand Habsburg is not new to endurance racing with two Daytona 24-hour races under his belt, teamed up with fellow countryman Rene Binder and LMP2 rookie Yifei Ye in the #26 G-Drive Racing by APR Aurus 01. The #25 sister car was shared by Bullet youngsters Rui Andrade and Franco Colapinto, and American Bronze driver John Falb.
The 2020 TRS rookie champion Franco Colapinto made a huge leap from junior single seaters to endurance racing and immediately rose to the challenge of the 600hp Aurus 01, a new track and a new team. The Argentinean 17-year-old showed glimpses of his skill during the test sessions, but the real breakthrough came when he took pole position for both races, 0.269 seconds ahead of teammate Yifei Ye in the #26 G-Drive car.
Angolan Bullet Athlete Rui Andrade also made his sports car debut this weekend after only three seasons in junior single seaters. The Visit Angola ambassador felt comfortable in the car straight away and has shown promising pace throughout the tests leading up to the weekend.
Unfortunately, the #25 squad’s first race was compromised due to a minor oil leak which forced them to do three extra pit stops, making it impossible to fight for the podium. However, they still managed to secure a P4 finish, collecting important points for the championship, with Franco setting the fastest lap of the race.
The #26 crew on the other hand had a faultless run. After a clean start by Binder and a brilliant charge by Ye in the middle part of the race, Ferdinand took over the wheel for the final stint and brought the car home in first place, celebrating his first victory in sports-cars.
Sunday’s race saw another G-Drive Racing front row. Following a neat and tidy start, Falb and Binder kept the lead, but as a result of a restart after a full course yellow period, the #25 car dropped down to fifth. After the first driver change, Ferdinand rejoined the race in the front of the field followed by Rui in P4. The young Angolan handled the new situation extremely well by managing to fend off ex-F1 driver and 2020 Formula E vice-champion Stoffel Vandoorne. Once past, he started his charge for the podium, passing two cars to take P2, making a team 1-2.
Franco got in the #25 Aurus 01 for the final stint, providing the fireworks with his duel against 2-times GT World Champion and Le Mans 24 Hour winner Nicki Thiim. The rookie did not back down, on the contrary, he posted the fastest lap of the race and secured a 1-2 finish for G-Drive Racing.
Rui Andrade: “Our weekend had ups and downs but fortunately we were able to make amends for Saturday’s race by running a very clean drive to P2 on Sunday“– said the Lactiangol sponsored driver. “The team did an amazing job all week and my teammates Franco and John performed extremely well during both races. I can’t wait to see what we can do in the final two races coming up this weekend!”
Franco Colapinto: I really enjoyed my first race weekend in an LMP2 car,” – said the Cockpit Simuladores supported driver. “G-Drive Racing by APR provided me with everything I needed to adjust to the new challenges, and I am very happy that we could bring home a double podium for the team! Special thanks to the #25 crew all the effort during this hard week and to Rui and John for their excellent performance. We are getting stronger as a team and Abu Dhabi is next!
Ferdinand Habsburg: “It has been an amazing week at Dubai Autodrome” – said the AVL Racing supported Austrian. “Nothing beats the winning feeling, and it’s only made better when you succeed with a team like Algarve Pro Racing, which has made me feel so at home. I am very grateful to my teammates who did a perfect job, the engineers and mechanics, who never put a foot wrong and the team has come away with the results it deserves, but I can’t wait to end the season on a high in Abu Dhabi. “
The Asian Le Mans Series season continues this week in Abu Dhabi with two 4-hour races on Friday and Saturday.