Tom Blomqvist and JOTA teammate Sean Geleal dominated the second half of the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series’s penultimate race at Yas Marina Circuit, securing the duo’s maiden win.
It was a tenacious opening stint by Blomqvist that set Geleal up to take the chequered flag two minutes clear of the nearest rival.
His first time driving an LMP2 machine in five years, the New Zealand-raised GT specialist was made to start at the back of the grid in class after failing to complete a single lap in practice or qualifying.
During the build-up to the event, an incident in testing had JOTA prioritise Gelael’s seat time in its rebuilt car.
Blomqvist took over from Stoffel Vandoorne for the final two races this weekend. Despite his lack of running, he looked right at home from the start and was immediately challenging the front runners.
A pair of safety car periods ensured erstwhile race leader Rene Binder could never break free of the pack. Behind, Blomqvist had muscled his way up to second before handing control of the car to Gelael.
Remerging just ahead of Binder, who had stopped a lap earlier, Geleal looked to have cemented himself into the lead. However, Binder lunged himself back in front of the JOTA driver at the end of the back straight.
Fortune would then gift Gelael the lead once again. His next pitstop coincided perfectly with a Full Course Yellow period.
With his rivals compelled to limp around at a reduced pace for another lap before making their own stops, Gelael elevated into the lead – a position he would never relinquish.
JOTA’s 50-second lead soon become a two minute-plus advantage when the second-place G-Drive car served a penalty for an off-track infringement.
At the conclusion of the four-hour race, Gelael had put a lap on the entire field, finishing 2m5s in front of Yifei Ye in the lead G-Drive.
Gelael moves up to second in the standings following his win. Meanwhile, Blomqvist will see out the championship in the final race this evening with a chance to end the season with a 100 per cent winning record.