It’s been quite a week thus far for the Asian Le Mans Series, even before a car turns a wheel in race week at Le Mans.
An announcement of a change for the forthcoming 2017/18 calendar sees the series revert to a four-race season from the planned five. Logistics challenges in China, and a response to feedback from a number of potential entrants – including teams based in Asia, over the ability of teams and suppliers to comfortably ship cars and other equipment from Europe in time to start the season – was at the core of the decision.
The announcement also saw the first news that one of the current four x four hour races will be extended to a six hour enduro, a move again welcomed by a number of the teams that are set to rejoin the series for the coming season.
Perhaps most significant of all though was the move by Asian Le Mans Series Managing Director Cyrille Taesch Wahlen, to issue a clarion call to all major sportscar and GT race series’ operating in the region to come together to produce future season calendars that prevented, wherever possible, clashes.
There shouldn’t be anything standing in the way of established or emerging teams from mounting dual or multiple campaigns.
It’s a brave and classy move by the Asian Le Mans Series, and again was welcomed by a number of the major Asian teams who gathered for a Tuesday lunchtime reception at Le Mans ahead of a photo-call to celebrate the biggest ever Asian Le Mans Series presence at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“Choice is always the best option, and if you have the opportunity to do multiple programmes that can be very good news for the teams with the cars and the assets to do it,” said one established team principal.
With the Asian market in general, and the Chinese market in particular in an increasingly heady growth curve, new series emerging each year and all the signs that perhaps some structure is required we’d agree with that sentiment.
The current success of the ELMS and the Blancpain GT Series in particular has shown that both can be sustained comfortably in a mature European marketplace. An enlightened cross-industry consideration of how best to assist such an important emergent market to flourish is surely in everybody’s interest?