Millroy powers to AsLMS podium finish in Sepang
11th November 2015
Ollie Millroy topped off a herculean recovery drive from his AAI Motorsports crew-mates at the second round of the Asian Le Mans Series in Sepang last weekend (8 November) by sealing a stunning second place finish.
The British racer, along with co-drivers Dirk Muller and Jun San Chen, negotiated Malaysia’s ever-challenging weather conditions and a penalty-enforced back-of-the-grid start to secure their first podium of the season.
Millroy made a typically strong start to the weekend, using free practice time with his team-mates to optimise the #91 BMW Z4 GT3 for Sepang’s notoriously hot temperatures. The fruits of their labours were quickly apparent, with Millroy setting the first and second fastest lap times of all GT drivers in two of the three sessions.
Saturday’s hotly-contested qualifying session saw Millroy continue his impressive form, maximising the #91 machine’s competitive pace to clock the third fastest lap time in class. However, an unfortunate pit-lane infringement incurred by the team bringing Millroy’s car back into the garage too early saw the Z4 GT3 line up at the very back of the grid for Sunday’s three-hour contest.
Race day signalled a dramatic change in fortunes for Millroy and his team-mates. Indeed, despite starting on slick tyres in damp conditions Muller managed to rise to sixth in class during the first 15 minutes and was second by the end of his stint. Team owner Jun San Chen climbed aboard for the second spell and consolidated Muller’s strong performance before handing over to Millroy with an hour left on the clock. However, a slow fuel stop during the driver change meant that the Briton lost 11 valuable seconds in his pursuit of the lead, leaving him with a large mountain to climb in the contest’s closing stages.
Having emerged in third Millroy set about hunting down the second-placed #90 AAI Mercedes AMG SLS GT. Such was his pace that Millroy only needed 10 laps to catch and dispatch the sister car, leaving the door open to chase the class-leading Clearwater Racing McLaren 650S GT3.
Millroy fully exploited his car’s excellent tyre management and maintained the gap to the pacey McLaren, extracting every ounce of performance from his BMW on the way to securing second and a valuable hoard of points for the team.
“All things considered, we had a very strong weekend,” emphasised Millroy. “We knew that we faced an uphill battle from the back of the grid after our unfortunate penalty from qualifying, but Dirk had a speedy start and got us into a strong position. Jun San put in a very solid stint too and kept us well within podium contention.
“I got as much out of the car as I could during my spell at the wheel. Despite the sweltering conditions it was treating its rubber very nicely, so I could really push and catch the frontrunners pretty quickly.“
“Our pace was up there throughout the weekend, so we definitely could’ve fought for the victory if we had retained our initial qualifying position.
“Fighting from the back is never easy, especially in a field this competitive, so we should be extremely proud of our performance. Working with Dirk this weekend was great, too; he has a lot of experience as a BMW factory driver, so it was nice to be able to compare notes and share our know-how!
Millroy will be sure to take this momentum into the next round at Buriram in Thailand, where he feels the brand new circuit will suit his #91 BMW even better.
“I’ve never raced at Buriram before, but I’ve spent a lot of time completing simulation work and watching on-board footage,” he explained. “It’s a track with a lot of fourth and fifth gear corners, so it will suit our Z4’s high downforce package very nicely.
“The McLaren has been very quick so far this year, but I think we’ll be able to give it a serious run for its money next time out.”
Millroy will be back in action for the third round of the Asian Le Mans Series in Buriram, which takes place on 8-10 January 2016.
Track Days / Test Days / MotorsportDays.com