A hugely positive release overnight from the Asian Le Mans Series confirms their first 16 entries have been received for the 2018/19 Asian Le Mans Series, over four months before the start of the season, with several other cars already known too be in the pipeline, and existing and new teams working on confirming still more before the start of the season.
With a mix of new teams, returning and expanding teams and series returnees the four-race Series seems to have already drawn positivity from its increased exposure last season, despite disappointing grid numbers.
A revised class structure, retention of four entries to the 24 Hours of Le Mans on offer, plus their new for 2017/18 (and very well received) broadcast package and a revised calendar have all played a part in boosting awareness and entries thus far.
Along with entries in the outright classes, the first entries for the new LMP2 Amateur Trophy have also been received. The Trophy is open to all-amateur driver line ups (with a maximum of one silver rated driver permitted), with the winner also receive a highly coveted entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2019.
The winners in the LMP2, LMP3 and GT classes will also be rewarded with an auto-invitation to the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2019.
Cyrille Taesch Wahlen, Managing Director, Asian Le Mans Series: “The Asian Le Mans Series is growing in every way. From the addition of new, high profile and experienced teams, to the strengthening and expansion of the teams that have supported the Series since day one, we are sure this mix will add to the excitement of the racing the Series produces.
“The feedback we are receiving from all teams, both the new teams and the long-standing teams, is that we are delivering a very attractive package featuring a good calendar, exciting tracks and supported by a world class broadcast package. This package, and the fact that there is no compromise being made to the quality of the field, is setting the 2018/19 Asian Le Mans Series up to be the most successful ever.”
In addition to the new teams already announced for the coming season, the 2018/19 season will have another addition.
Team Virage have lodged their entry for the 2018/19 season in the LMP3 class and are working hard to shortly confirm a second.
There have also been many existing teams not only confirming their entries but entering additional cars for the coming season.
Reigning LMP2 and LMP3 Champions Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport have entered an LMP2 and LMP3, and expect to confirm a third imminently with a fourth being worked on.
2016/17 Champions, Algarve Pro Racing, Eurasia Motorsport, and Chinese based 2017/18 GT AM winner Tianshi Racing Team (Audi Sport Customer Racing Asia by TSRT) have all doubled the number of cars they have entered for the 2018/19 season.
ARC Bratislava and Viper Niza have both also confirmed they will be returning, with both entering the same cars they raced in the 2017/18 season. ARC Bratislava, who finished runner up in the LMP3 class in 2016/17 before finishing 3rd outright in LMP2 last season have entered their Ligier JS P2 in the LMP2 amateur trophy. Viper Niza have entered a Ligier JS P3.
Team Virage LMP3, Virage Racing Academy
Team Virage have confirmed one LMP3 entry and working on a second.
Julien Gerbi, Team Manager / Director of Operations: “Apart from having a very exciting calendar, the Asian Le Mans Series is a great opportunity for our drivers to keep contact with competitive racing during the winter, before returning to the European Le Mans Series in April.
“Being a new team, the possibility to open a path to the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a plus, but each member of the team is already excited by the adventure, which we will hopefully do with both of our cars.”
United Autosports will compete in both the LMP2 and LMP3 classes in the coming season. The team will race two Ligier JS P2s and two Ligier JS 3s, creating a very strong four car effort.
Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports: “I can’t wait to see our United Autosports Ligiers race in Asia. Some new circuits for the team to visit and a new challenge to take on, it will be great.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports: “I’m really excited to be racing in Asia and it made sense to add another ACO programme to our calendar. There is a lot of interest in the series and it gives United Autosports a new challenge to take on. From a personal point of view, I’m looking forward to going back to Asia. I raced a lot in Japan when I was younger, and it was a place I loved so I’m looking forward to heading back there to see how much it has changed.”
Algarve Pro Racing
2017/18 LMP2 Gentleman’s Trophy
2016/17 LMP2 Champions.
The team will double their effort in from last year and will run two Ligier JS P2s in the outright class.
Stewart Cox, Algarve Pro Racing, Team Principal: “The Asian Le Mans Series is a very important championship for Algarve Pro Racing, because not only is it a strong and competitive platform on which to prepare drivers for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the significant growth in coverage also exposes the team to new markets and audiences.
“We have a strong track record of taking gentleman drivers from Asia to Le Mans, Ate Dirk de Jong the most recent graduate, after winning the 2017-18 ALMS Gentleman’s Trophy with us. We recognise and appreciate the ACO’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the Asian Le Mans Series for teams and drivers and we believe the series will continue gathering momentum and attracting larger trackside and broadcast audiences, to reinforce its status as Asia’s premier endurance racing series.
“The Series has certainly become a core element of Algarve Pro Racing’s business for all of the aforementioned reasons, and that’s why we’re committing to a two-car entry for the team’s fourth season in 2018-19, which promises to be the biggest and best yet.”
2016/17 Runner up in the LMP3 Class
2017/18 3rd place outright (LMP2)
The team will return with their Ligier JS P2, entered in the amateur trophy.
Miro Konopka, Team Owner: “We’re happy to announce that ARC Bratislava is returning to Asia with our Ligier JS P2 to race in the Gentlemen’s trophy. Despite our disappointment of not having been selected for Le Mans we are ready to compete again!
“The Asian Le Mans Series organisation made it a great series with four exciting events every year and it’s the best opportunity to race during the European winter time.”
2016/17 2nd LMP2
Eurasia have also doubled their effort for the coming season, adding a LMP3 entry to the Ligier JS P2 they campaigned last season.
Mark Goddard, Team Principal: “Eurasia Motorsport is delighted to be back fielding two cars in the 2018-19 Asian Le Mans Series. Eurasia has supported the series from the very first event back in 2013 and we have seen the series grow in strength from year to year. The new season will feature a large number of LMP cars providing close competitive racing and we are really looking forward to taking on the tough competition”.
Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport
2017/18 LMP2 and LMP3 Champions
2016/17 2nd LMP2 & 3rd LMP3
2015/16 LMP3 Champions
2014 LMP2 Champions
2013 LMP2 Champions
Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport have entered an LMP2 and LMP3, and expect to confirm a third imminently with a fourth being worked on.
Tianshi Racing Team (Audi Sport Customer Racing Asia by TSRT)
2017/18 3rd GT Class and winner of the GT-Am class in their debut season.
Another team that are doubling their entry for the 2018/19 season, they have entered two Audi R8 LMS in the GT class.
Ron Reichert, Team Manager: “We are very happy and proud to be able to announce our two-car entry so early. As we are very positive about the last Asian Le Mans Series, and it was a logical consequence for us to come back even stronger. With two cars we believe to be able to achieve higher goals. As we are participating in various Asian Championships this season, we are fully prepared.
“The participation of TSRT is the best proof of Chinese motorsports development, which Mr Liu, our team founder has been part of for the last years. It is very nice to see this, and him, on his way to Le Mans. We would like to thank the ACO for their good work and support in all situations and look forward to the new season.”
The team will return with the Ligier JS P3 they campaigned in the 2017/18 season.
Douglas Khoo, Team Principal: “The series ticks off several of the check boxes for us. Having competed in other series across Europe and Asia, the Asian Le Mans Series is well organized with proper rules and procedures.
“The great thing about the series is that it is in our ‘backyard’ close to our base in Kuala Lumpur which cuts down our travel time. Plus the circuits are familiar to us meaning we do not have to spend a lot of time learning new circuits.”
2018/19 Asian Le Mans Series Calendar details:
Shanghai International Circuit replaces Zhuhai in the coming season and the final race of the season at Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia, moves later in February to create less calendar congestion in the region.
Round 1: 23/25 November 2018
Shanghai International Circuit, China
Round 2: 7/9 December 2018
Fuji Speedway, Japan
Round 3: 10/12 January 2019
Buriram Chang International Circuit, Thailand
Round 4: 22/24 February 2019
Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia