Algarve Pro Racing stormed out of the blocks with overall victory in the Asian Le Mans Series opener on Saturday, followed by a strong fourth place finish in Sunday’s race two to assume the lead of the championship standings at the halfway point.
A newcomer to ALMS, 18-year-old Kyffin Simpson looked right at home alongside the experienced John Falb and James Allen, logging some of the fastest laps across the double-header 4 Hours of Dubai race weekend in the #25 ORECA 07 prototype.
After a strong showing in practice, Bronze-rated Falb took the wheel for the two-part qualifying session on Saturday morning to determine Algarve Pro’s starting position for both races. The #25 took the chequered flag with laps good enough for sixth and fifth respectively, albeit almost two hours later than originally scheduled due to an incident in an earlier session.
That meant the first ALMS race of 2023 would begin as the sun set over Dubai Autodrome, adding hours of night driving to contend with rather than the original short interval.
John took the start cleanly, and hassled LMP2 class leaders for over 90 minutes – through two FCY periods – before a small mistake on the second restart saw the #25 spin under power. Falb regained the time lost quickly, before handing over to Kyffin who set about closing a 25-second deficit to the race leaders.
The Cayman Islands racer did just that. In a faultless stint, Kyffin set Algarve Pro’s fastest time of the race and dug deep to reduce the overall gap. Simpson eventually pitted from P2, just seven seconds behind the car ahead. With James now in the car, the #25 traded places several times with #3 DKR Engineering before quick pit stop work by the Algarve Pro Racing crew delivered a crucial advantage in the final stint.
James crossed the line to win the 4 Hours of Dubai (Race 1) with a nine-second lead over DKR, with 99 Racing completing the podium in LMP2. Kyffin Simpson’s first victory of 2023 comes just four months since his Petit Le Mans win in GTD. Speaking about his first Dubai Autodrome experience, Kyffin said:
“That was an amazing race. John recovered well from an unfortunate start and James did a great job holding on for the last stint. My stint went about as smoothly as I could have hoped. The car did everything I wanted it to, traffic wasn’t too bad, and the team nailed the execution on pit stops. I’m so happy we’ve started off with a win. Bring on Race 2 tomorrow.”
Falb took the green flag at 15:00 GST to begin Dubai Autodrome’s second race, and much like the first, he made immediate progress seizing P4 at the first opportunity. After a rock-solid stint, an unlucky puncture at turn three ultimately ruled the #25 out of overall victory contention.
Kyffin and James fought every remaining lap to claw back time – at one point just seconds back from the leading cars – but additional time lost in a hectic pit lane scramble added a 15-second deficit. Despite their best efforts, Algarve Pro crossed the line fourth in class to round out the Dubai Autodrome portion of the series.
With a win and fourth in the first two rounds, Algarve Pro Racing lead the ALMS championship standings with 37 points, ahead of DKR Engineering (36) and Inter Europol Competition (27).
Looking back at the second race in Dubai, Kyffin said:
“Tough race! Fourth isn’t a bad result, all things considered. We all fought right to the end, but our race became very difficult after the puncture. I really enjoyed my stint tonight; the car was just getting faster as the sun set, and I felt confident making some aggressive moves in traffic. Big thanks to James, John and APR. It’s great to lead the championship at the halfway point. Bring on Abu Dhabi.”
With two of four rounds complete, the series moves on to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for the 4 Hours of Abu Dhabi double-header weekend; another back-to-back event which will see the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series champions crowned.
Fans can follow live coverage of the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series on its official YouTube channel, and can support Kyffin on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Kyffin Simpson is a Chip Ganassi Racing development driver supported by The American Legion, Ridgeline Lubricants, InvestCayman, Visit Cayman Islands, Boddens Legal, Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa Grand Cayman, Simpson Race Products and Kokoro Media.