Asian Le Mans Series

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Asian Le Mans Series
2014 Asian Le Mans Series season
Category Sports car racing
Country or region Asia
Inaugural season 2009
Prototype Classes LMP2, CN
GT Classes GT, GT Am
Current Drivers' champion/s United States David Cheng(LMP2)
Japan Naoki Yokomizo(GTE)
Japan Akira Iida(GTE)
Japan Shogo Mitsuyama(GTE)
Italy Andrea Bertolini(GTC)
Italy Michele Rugolo(GTC)
Australia Steve Wyatt(GTC)
Current Teams' champion France OAK Racing(LMP2)
Japan Team Taisan Ken Endless(GTE)
Italy AF Corse(GTC)
Official website asianlemansseries.com

The Asian Le Mans Series is an Asian sports car racing endurance series created by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and based in Asia. It is the successor to the defunct Japan Le Mans Challenge which folded in 2007 after its second season. The ACO aims to attract teams and drivers from Asian countries such as China and Japan.

A teasing race was to be held at Shanghai, China on November 1–2, 2008 but was later cancelled. The inaugural season's race, the 2009 1000 km of Okayama, was held on 30 October and 1 November 2009 at Okayama, Japan with one 500 km race per day. It was the only event of the inaugural season. A second Asian Le Mans Series event, scheduled for the Shanghai International Circuit, China, on 7 and 8 November was cancelled by the ACO due to economic circumstances.[1] The winning teams in each of the four categories (LMP1, LMP2, GT1 and GT2) earned automatic invitations to the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans. The series was relaunched for the 2013 season with an announcement at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans.

History[edit]

Following the cancellation of the All Japan Sports Prototype Championship (JSPC) in 1992 there was no major endurance series involving sports-prototypes in Asia, although there was a grand tourer championship in the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (JGTC).

Plans for a new endurance championship were initially conceived by Don Panoz and backed by the ACO in 2000 with plans for an Asian-Pacific Le Mans Series, modeled after his American Le Mans Series and planned European Le Mans Series for 2001. Two previews of this event were held. The 1999 Le Mans Fuji 1000km at the Fuji Speedway in Japan combined Le Mans cars with JGTC machines for automatic entries to the 2000 24 Hours of Le Mans. This idea was followed by the American Le Mans Series with the 2000 Race of a Thousand Years race at the Adelaide Street Circuit in Australia. These two events served as a precursor to the planned APLMS series, and at the time of the creation of ELMS, Don Panoz announced his intention to hold an exhibition APLMS race at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia in late 2001.

However, the European Le Mans Series suffered from a lack of entrants during its debut season, and was eventually canceled. Don Panoz decided that the APLMS would likely have even less interest. Thus the APLMS exhibition race and all plans for an Asian series were scrapped.

The ACO attempted to develop their own championship modeled on their own Le Mans Endurance Series in 2006 with the development of the Japan Le Mans Challenge, overseen by the Sports Car Endurance Race Operation (SERO). It too lacked competitors and was canceled after its second season.

In 2009, a reborn Asian Le Mans Series held an inaugural event in Okayama, Japan with two 500 km races. A 1000 km race in Zhuhai, China, was held as part of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup in 2010, and it was also part of the Asian Le Mans Series.

At the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans the ACO announced the revival of the Asian Le Mans Series for the 2013 series.[2] The format will be run very similarly to the European Le Mans Series, with the ACO expecting around 16-18 cars for the first relaunched season. However only 8 cars showed up for the first race of the season, making it the smallest ever grid in ACO sanctioned racing.

The ACO further announced that cars running under the GT300 regulations in the Japanese Super GT series would be elegible to enter in the Asian Le Mans Series' GTC class, with organisers from both series working together to create calendars that would allow GT300 teams to compete in both championships.[3]

Format[edit]

The relaunched Asian Le Mans series will have very similar rules to the European Le Mans Series. There are 5 classes:

  • LMP2
  • LMPC
  • LMGTE
  • GTC
  • GTC-AM

Compared to the previous 2009 season the LMP1 and LMGT1 categories are dropped and the GTC class is opened to GT3 cars in addition to Super GT series GT300 class (GT3 or JAF-GT) cars. All classes follow a "Pro-Am" categorization with each car requiring at least one amateur driver, and each car must have at least one Asian driver. The season winners of LMP2 and GTC will each get an invitation to the following year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. Michelin was announced as the sole tire supplier for the series.

In the 2013 season, the SGT class, is opened exclusively for all teams in GT300 class of Super GT. It uses the same vehicle regulation of Super GT and counts points towards GT300 championship. This class only participated at the 2013 3 Hours of Fuji.

On 20 April 2013, changes were made to the class structure for grand touring. GTC remained open to FIA GT3 category cars while GTC Am serves as a trophy to gentleman drivers and teams and is open to Cup teams from Lamborghini Super Trofeo, Porsche Cup Asia, Ferrari Challenge Asia, Audi R8 LMS Cup Asia, and Lotus Cup Asia.

For the 2014 season, Group CN will be allowed into the series within their own class replacing the entry-less LMPC class from 2013. The grand tourer classes including LM GTE, GTC, and Super GT300 will be merged into a single GT class that will be performance balanced by the ACO. Driver requirements to include one driver from Asia were expanded to include any nationality from the Australasia region.

Champions[edit]

Season LMP1 Team LMP2 Team LMGT1 Team LMGT2 Team
LMP1 Drivers LMP2 Drivers GT1 Drivers GT2 Drivers
2009 France Sora Racing France OAK Racing/Team Mazda France Japan JLOC Germany Hankook Team Farnbacher
France Christophe Tinseau
Japan Shinji Nakano
France Jacques Nicolet
France Matthieu Lahaye
Monaco Richard Hein
Japan Atsushi Yogo
Japan Hiroyuki Iiri
Germany Dominik Farnbacher
Denmark Allan Simonsen
2013 LMP2 Team GTE Team GTC Team
France OAK Racing Japan Team Taisan Ken Endless Italy AF Corse
LMP2 Drivers GTE Drivers GTC Drivers
United States David Cheng Japan Naoki Yokomizo
Japan Akira Iida
Japan Shogo Mitsuyama
Italy Andrea Bertolini
Italy Michele Rugolo
Australia Steve Wyatt

References[edit]

  1. ^ Planetlemans.com Series Update (2009-08-04). "Asian Le Mans Series: The latest news". Planetlemans.com. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  2. ^ John Dagys Update (2012-06-14). "LE MANS: Asian Le Mans Series Relaunched". Speedtv.com. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  3. ^ "Super GTs will be eligible for the inaugural Asian Le Mans Series in 2013". Autosport.com (Haymarket Publications). 20 August 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 

External links[edit]