TRIPLE Eight swept both races of the 2023/24 Asian Le Mans Series finale in Abu Dhabi but came up just two points short of an invitation to compete in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
The overall series winner of the ALMS GT class earns an invitation to enter the iconic endurance race, and Triple Eight drew within nine points of the lead in the standings after the opening leg of the double-header of four-hour races at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Prince Jefri Ibrahim, Jordan Love and Luca Stolz claimed the squad’s first ALMS race win on the Saturday night, while the points-leading #91 Pure Rxcing Porsche of Alex Malykhin, Klaus Bachler and Joel Sturm crashed out after being hit by an LMP2-class car during a Safety Car period.
A victory in Sunday night’s finale, combined with a third-place finish for the repaired Pure Rxcing Porsche, would have been enough for Triple Eight to secure both the GT title and the Le Mans invite.
Overcoming a penalty for a pit exit infringement, the #88 Mercedes-AMG crossed the line in the finale second in class with the Lithuanian-owned Porsche right behind, the latter having recovered from being spun mid-race.
Triple Eight was then awarded the victory after the provisional winner, the #19 Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini, was handed a post-race time penalty for breaching the maximum driving time rule by 1m46s.
However, Pure Rxcing’s elevation to second in the GT class gave it a two-point margin in the final standings, leaving Triple Eight just shy of becoming one of a handful of teams across the ALMS, IMSA and European Le Mans Series to receive an invitation to enter this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
Ironically, Pure Rxcing already had an invite through winning GT World Challenge Europe’s Bronze Cup, along with also having a full-season WEC entry in partnership with Manthey.
Triple Eight’s GT operation now heads to Mount Panorama this weekend for the Repco Bathurst 12 Hour, with the squad set to fly staff back and forth from its Brisbane headquarters as key Supercars staff tackle both legs of the Bathurst SuperFest.