Good morning from Zhuhai International Circuit for the opening round of the 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series.
The DSC Ed is on site with a dual role of commentator and MC (plus of course DSC duties) and is slowly recovering from a nasty bout of something unpleasant with the help of the Series’ doctor and a collection of drugs that would have a 1970s San Francisco hippy saying “that’s a bit excessive!”
There’s no getting away from the fact that the 14 car entry here is a big disappointment, we’ll have some reaction from Series Boss Cyrille Taesch Wahlen later on the reasons for it, and the recovery plan that is already in place.
The 14 cars that are here though are a fascinating mix.
Of the sextet of LMP2s we have two brand new Oreca 05 Nissans, production restarted to facilitate the Jackie Chan DC Racing by Jota effort.
The planned trio in the #7 car though is down to a pair, James Winslow’s proposed entry falling victim to commercial woes.
The four Ligier JSP2s see the Algarve pro outfit return to defend their title from last year, their familiar blue and white livery though is replaced here by an attractive all over black scheme. The planned driver trio for the #25 though is down to two after Canadian racer John Graham fell foul of ill health earlier in the week. He’ll be back for Fuji with a team that is focusing very firmly on enjoying their season.
ARC Bratislava’s Ligier has an identical driver trio to that fielded by the team at Le Mans this year, the car is the ex Krohn Racing chassis run in the 2016 ELMS by Greaves Motorsport and with Team Owner Miro Konopka having engaged Greaves once again to assist his crew for the season. Jacob Greaves is on site with a gaggle of familiar faces. The team hit trouble in qualifying yesterday with Konstantins Calko going off on cold tyres at the start of the session, doing damage front and rear. The car though is good to go for the race.
Eurasia’s #33 Ligier is the ex RGR Sport car that scored race wins and second place in the Championship in the 2016 FIA WEC. Eurasia are on e of a number of runners that have hit visa issues meaning that they will start the season with just to drivers, including Keiko Ihara, ex WEC podium sitter.
Team BBT make the step up from the GT class to LMP2 with an ex G-Drive Ligier JS P2, a familiar car then to Pipo Derani, the 2016 Rolex 24 Hours and 12 Hours of Sebring winner shares the seat with Team Owner Anthony Liu and Davide Rizzo, the car looking splendid in the regular red yellow and black BBT livery.
In the LMP3 class there are new faces too.
The Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup Championship-winning #1 WIN Motorsport effort though is still a familiar one, William Lok and Richard Bradley, Richard adding a 2015 Le Mans LMP2 winner to the entry that already has winners from 2016 (Stephane Richelmi) and 2017 (Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung).
WIN Racing carry over their colours from the Sprint Cup but now carry Gulf branding for the first time too.
The Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP3 Ligier has the all-American duo of Guy Cosmo and Patrick Byrne, the pair finding a full season LMP3 berth after trying the Ligier at the UK LMP3 Cup preview event at Snetterton a year ago.
Douglas Khoo and Dominic Ang return after campaigning an Adess in the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup to add another Ligier here, the team now renamed as Viper Niza Racing.
KCMG’s familiar colours return to the Asian Le Mans Series in LMP3 with the #18 Ligier, a car run by the team in the FRD LMP3 Series here in China, for Aussie Josh Burdon, current Asian Formula Renault Champion, Neric Wei and Louis Prette.
And there’s another attractive livery too for the final LMP3 entrant here, the #11 Taiwan Beer GH Motorsport Ligier.
The GT class sees a mixed trio, FIST Team AAI bringing a Mercedes AMG GT3 and BMW M6 GT3 this time out, BMW factory driver Jesse Krohn and AMG factory man Rafaelle Marciello both on parade together with AAI regular Ollie Millroy.
Chaz Mostert, Bathurst 1000 winner in 2014 rounds out the parade of significant race winners in the entry, he’s aboard the #91 BMW M6 GT3.