The two year chapter of the current iteration of the Asian Le Mans Series will close after today’s three Hour race at Sepang with 2015 seeing the Series move in-house to the ACO.
Low car counts and calendar fumbles have seen the AsLMS prove to be little more than a disaster in 2014 with the Malaysian finale seeing another poor grid of just eight cars.
S2M, under the directorship of Mark Thomas have been responsible for the management of the Series from the start but will no longer be involved.
Whilst grids were far from impressive in 2013 (the final round saw 14 cars start the race) the quality of both the entry, and the racing, looked encouraging.
Numbers in 2014 though took a sharp dip, this despite a small package of measures designed to promote growth with a consolidated GT class and the introduction of a class for the 2 litre engined CN prototypes.
Plans to reveal a 2014 calendar which would have seen a spring time test/ Winter Series with the season proper starting with a single pre-Le Mans race have been canned with the ACO opting instead to consolidate the Series around a shorter three race programme in the second half of 2015, one of which will be part of a “major endurance weekend”, presumed at present to be either the Fuji or Shanghai weekend with the FIA WEC.
The ACO though are not yet ready to announce the dates for this revised calendar.
The class structure will be unchanged from that planned for 2015 including the introduction of the new LMP3 junior prototype class.
At the end of the 2015 season the best teams will be invited to take part in the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours with the criteria for these invitations to be announced in due course.
2016 should then see a restoration of a five race calendar, including the introduction of a pre Le Mans event,with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest working with its Asian partners to support the implantation of new circuits in China.
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest:
“Asian motor sport is booming. In this context the ACO is determined to continue promoting its favourite branch of the sport – endurance – in Asia. After two years the Asian Le Mans series is facing a major crisis in expanding its growth on a large scale. But for us throwing in the towel is out of the question, quite the opposite in fact!
“We’ve got every confidence in its future. To stabilise the Asian championship it is vital to give this series a new lease of life. Thanks to the partners, teams and drivers who have remained faithful to us we’ll build a new Asian Le Mans Series together, one which will have the place it deserves in the Le Mans-type endurance pyramid.”