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. This record was broken a year later when only six cars started the first race of the 2014 season at Inje.

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]

Following the end of the 2014 season the ACO took over as the organizer for the series from the S2M Group. A primary issue that supported the takeover included low car counts for the season which prompted the cancellation of a scheduled round in Thailand and limited the series to grow while only in its second year. Plans for 2015 include a three-race calendar to begin later in the year around September then expand to five rounds in 2016 with the first race in the spring. One round will be held on the same weekend as the FIA World Endurance Championship, similar to the double-headers it shares with the European Le Mans Series and the United SportsCar Championship. Class structure will remain unchanged.

Format[edit]

The relaunched Asian Le Mans series has very similar rules to the European Le Mans Series with a total of 5 classes:

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

Compared to its running in 2009 the LMP1 and LMGT1 categories are dropped. The GTC class is opened to GT3 category cars in addition to Super GT series GT300 teams. All classes follow a "Pro-Am" categorization with each car requiring at least one amateur-rated driver, and each car must have at least one driver of Asian nationality. The season champions of LMP2 and GTC receive an invitation to the following year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. Michelin is the sole tire supplier for the series.

In the 2013 season the SGT class was opened exclusively for all teams in GT300 class of Super GT. It used the same vehicle regulation of Super GT and counted towards the 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 was introduced as a trophy to gentleman drivers and teams that competed from Lamborghini Super Trofeo, Porsche Cup Asia, Ferrari Challenge Asia, Audi R8 LMS Cup Asia, and Lotus Cup Asia. The class was renamed GT Am the following season.

For the 2014 season, Group CN was admitted into the series replacing the entry-less LMPC class from 2013. The grand tourer classes including LM GTE, GTC, and Super GT300 were merged into a single GT class. Driver requirements to include one driver from Asia were expanded to include any nationality from the Australasia region.

Champions[edit]

Drivers[edit]

Season LMP1 LMP2 GT1 GT2
2009 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 GTE GTC
United States David Cheng Japan Naoki Yokomizo
Japan Akira Iida
Japan Shogo Mitsuyama
Italy Andrea Bertolini
Italy Michele Rugolo
Australia Steve Wyatt
2014 LMP2 CN GT
United States David Cheng
China Ho-Pin Tung
Macau Kevin Tse Taiwan Jun San Chen
Japan Tatsuya Tanigawa

Teams[edit]

Season LMP1 LMP2 LMGT1 LMGT2
2009 France Sora Racing France OAK Racing/Team Mazda France Japan JLOC Germany Hankook Team Farnbacher
2013 LMP2 GTE GTC
France OAK Racing Japan Team Taisan Ken Endless Italy AF Corse
2014 LMP2 CN GT
France OAK Racing Hong Kong Craft-Bamboo Racing Taiwan AAI-Rstrada

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]