OD Racing Best Leader heads to the third round of the 2016-2017 Asian Le Mans Series under more familiar temparatures of Buriram this weekend knowing another step in the right direction could see them on the GT class podium for the first time.
A slight tweak to the driver line-up sees some glitter added in the form of Australian Liam Talbot, replacing Frenchman Philippe Descombes on board the McLaren GT650S, with Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy and New Zealander Jono Lester this time eager to make all the steps forward in the last two rounds count this time around.
Fairuz, looking for the team to put the whole package together this time, is positive about the OD squad's chances.
The team was hard done in Fuji, having come from behind to snatch the lead and were the fastest car in the GT class for much of the race, only to fall foul of a controversial pitlane penalty for an early pit stop which chopped two minutes off their time, effectively ruining their chances for a win.
But this time around, with that lesson taken on board, the positive vibes are centred around the clear pace the McLaren had shown in Fuji and with the whole package coming together, a win is the rightful objective.
"I'm looking forward to this weekend after showing a very good pace in Fuji. We know we can be there. It is just about having the right ingredients and putting everything together to finish in a good spot. Buriram is going to be a very challenging track, especially with the weather and the high brake-wear. We know Buriram is a very tight circuit and a bit of high speed and low-speed corners," said Fairuz.
"I'd also like to welcome Liam on board. We know he's got a lot of experience racing in GT3 cars, so he will not have much of a problem fitting in. So, I'm looking forward to working with him."
The experience Lester brings will be something that the team will count on again and he will be hoping the hard work and sacrifice put in over the Christmas break will lead to victory this time, after coming close in Round 2 at the Fuji Speedway a month ago.
"Really looking forward to Buriram this weekend. It will be my second time racing there after racing in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo last year. I really think the circuit is going to suit the McLaren and the form that we showed in Fuji, I think we've got a really good chance of winning this weekend. That is certainly our goal," said Lester.
"It will be really hot and humid. So, a different dynamic to Fuji and I've been training hard over the Christmas break. Not so much of drinking and Christmas cake, just a lot of fitness and so I'm really pumped up for the year and I want to start the year really strong. It will be a busy year with many programmes, so I'm looking forward to joining the OD boys again and let's make the best of it."
Making his debut with the team, Talbot is equally driven towards the goals and his good relationship with Lester could only serve up as another positive in the build-up to the weekend.
"My last race was Highlands, New Zealand with the Australian GT.
I've been speaking with Jono Lester since my championship win in the 2016 Blancpain Endurance Series about the chance to team up
. I've seen Jono has been very fast and I'm looking forward to working with him and our second driver to hopefully create a winning combination
I'm excited about Asian Le Mans as a series and I can't wait to be a part of it," said Talbot, 34.
A first run on board the McLaren and a debut in Buriram will also be something Talbot will be looking forward to.
"I have seen how the mclaren in action can be an fast car. I'm looking forward to having my first taste of this and the unique challenges it will present. I however don't underestimate the challenge. New car, new team and new track," he said.
With the weather forecast reading a dry and sunny early part of the weekend with possible rain during qualifying and on race day, OD Racing founder Cornelius Ee stuck to the positive stance within the team, stating his confidence in the driver line-up.
"I think Liam will form a great partnership with Jono and Fairuz, thus our driver line-up will be very competitive in Buriram," said Ee.
Round 3: 4H of Buriram Event Schedule
6th January 2017
15:00hrs - 16:30hrs - Free Practice 1
7th January 2017
09:40hrs - 11:10hrs - Free Practice 2
15:45hrs - 16:00hrs - Qualifying: GT and GT Cup
16:10hrs - 16:25hrs - Qualifying: LMP2, LMP3 and CN
8th January 2017
12:15hrs - 16:15hrs - Race
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