Chinese team R&B Racing was always in contention to win the 12 Hours of Sepang. The team’s silver-ranked driver, Leo Ye, thought it might be a tough day, but he said they won because “we just didn’t do any mistakes”.

By Steven Walton

Chinese team R&B Racing won the 12 Hours of Sepang on Saturday in the #44 Porsche 911 GT3 R (Type 992) driven by Yuan Bo, Lu Wei and Leo Ye – the same trio who won the Shanghai 8 Hours in October.

“We didn’t expect [the win] because last year we came here [to Sepang] with a disaster vehicle,” Ye told Asian Motorsport after their victory.

In 2023, the team was in a Lamborghini and finished fourth.

Ye said he thought this year’s race might be tough, but things started to look up early on when his teammates were in great form.

“And then when I jump in the car, I feel like we got the speed and so I pushed for it, and we built a decent advantage and then we just managed,” he said.

R&B Racing started from the front row and moved into the overall lead for the first time in the third hour.

‘We keep on rolling’

Asked why their team was able to win, Ye said: “I think we just didn’t do any mistakes, we keep on rolling and we didn’t have a failure at the pitstop and we didn’t have major failure on the track.”

Cars that were challenging R&B Racing had their chances at victory dashed by mistakes.

The #31 Phantom Global Racing Audi, which led early in the race, picked up two penalties before the halfway mark: a stop-go penalty for not meeting the required pitstop time and a 10-second penalty for contact with a backmarker.

The #4 Grove Racing Mercedes led at times in the middle of the race, but its hopes ended in the eighth hour when it crashed into two cars at turn one.

The #13 Phantom Global Racing Porsche was also an early contender, but it had to make an extra pitstop during the 12 hours.

‘I had zero rest’

Ye did the lion’s share of driving for R&B Racing and delivered a mistake-free performance.

He drove five stints in the race, including two back-to-back at the very end.

“It’s a bit tough for me to drive five hours, [I] haven’t been driving for the whole winter,” he said. “I had zero rest, I didn’t even have time to eat.”

Ye was complimentary of his two amateur teammates, Lu Wei and Yuan Bo, saying: “These two guys are two of the best Am drivers in China that I know.”

Strategy

R&B Racing also won the 12 Hours of Sepang thanks to strategy.

One of the critical calls came during the safety car in the eighth hour after the turn-one crash caused by Grove Racing.

R&B Racing had pitted about 15 minutes before the crash, but they decided to pit again under the safety car. This cost them the race lead to the #911 Absolute Racing Porsche, which stayed out.

“I was shouting on the radio ‘we should pit, we should pit’, they were discussing because we’re going to lose track position, I said ‘There are only like 10 cars, I can overtake them’,” Ye said.

This second pitstop was crucial though, as it came with four hours and 12 minutes to go.

It meant R&B Racing could now get to the end with just three stops, but the Absolute Racing Porsche would have to do four due to a mandated maximum stint length of 65 minutes.

So while the #911 Absolute Racing Porsche often led in the final four hours, the advantage was always with R&B Racing.

“We were counting the time,” Ye said.

With eight minutes to go, the Absolute Racing Porsche came in to do its extra pitstop, handing the lead and the win to R&B Racing.

Full results from the 12 Hours of Sepang are available here.

Header image credit: 12 Hours of Sepang

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