A 26 car full-season entry (with very strong prospects of additional race by race additions) is set to see the Asian Le Mans Series take significant strides forward for the 2019/20 season which gets underway next weekend at Shanghai International Circuit.
The entry includes a significant proportion of teams and drivers from the Asia-Pacific region, another big step forward for the Series as it moves away very substantially this season from the feeling of an ELMS Winter Series.
LMP2 – 7 Cars
1 – Eurasia Motorsport (PHI) – Ligier JS P217 Gibson – Nobuya Yamanaka (JPN/ B) Daniel Gaunt (NZL/S) Masataka Yanagida (JPN/G)
26 – G Drive Racing By Algarve (RUS) – Aurus 01 Gibson – Roman Rusinov (RUS/G) James French (USA/S) Leonard Hoogenboom (NED/S )
33 – Inter Europol Endurance (POL) – Ligier JS P217 Gibson – John Corbett (AUS/B) Nathan Kumar (AUS/S)
34 – Inter Europol Endurance (POL) – Ligier JS P217 Gibson – Jakub Smiechowski (POL/S) James Winslow (GBR/S) Mathias Beche (CHE/G)
36 – Eurasia Motorsport (PHI) – Ligier JS P217 Gibson – Aidan Read (AUS/S) Nick Foster (AUS/G)
45 – Thunderhead Carlin Racing (GBR) – Dallara P217 Gibson – Jack Manchester (GBR) Harry Tincknell (GBR/P) Ben Barnicoat (GBR)
96 – K2 Uchino Racing (JPN) – ORECA 07 Gibson – Haruki Kurosawa (JPN/G) Shaun Thong (HKG/S)
Making their debut in the Asian Le Mans Series is the new generation, Gibson V8 powered LMP2 cars and the full season collection in Asia makes for an intriguing collection.
Four Ligiers, a pair of ORECAs (one badged as an Aurus) and a single Dallara gives a real opportunity for a battle to savour.
Established teams, expanding teams and brand new LMP2 player will combine, together with some standout drivers for the overall Championship.
A pair of two-car Ligier squads see Philippines-based Asian Le Mans Series stalwarts Eurasia Motorsport field fully Asia-Pacific line-ups, one car in New Zealand colours, the other with an all-Aussie line-up at present.
The reigning Series LMP3 Champions Inter Europol expand their entry to three cars, including a pair in the top class, with an all-Aussie duo in the #33 car, and a more familiar European line-up in the sister #34
The ORECA chassis come from a pair of very different teams:
G-Drive Racing by Algarve bring Asian LMS Championship-winning couple, Sam and Stuart Cox, to bear on an effort that sees one of their ORECAs rebranded as an Aurus 01, Roman Rusinov looking to claim a title in Asia, joined by the interesting duo of 2019 Panis Barthez driver Leonard Hoogenboom and APR 2019 driver James French,
The other ORECA is a brand-new car from Japanese outfit K2 Uchino Racing. Team boss and ex Jota Sport LMP racer Haruki Kurosawa joined by Shaun Thong in a very serious shot at the title.
The solo Dallara is for Thunderhead by Carlin, Jack Manchester joined by 2019 ELMS season co-pilots Ben Barnicoat and Harry Tincknell, the team looking to wipe away the memories of a tough first year in LMP2, looking too for pace out of the Dallara. This could be the best chance yet of the Italian chassis being in with a shout of race wins and a title.
LMP2 AM – 4 Cars
4 – ARC Bratislava – Ligier JS P2 Nissan (SVK) – Miro Konopka (SVK/B) Andreas Laskaratos (GRE/B) Kang Ling (CHN/S)
25 – Rick Ware Racing – Ligier JS P2 Nissan (USA) – Michael Zimicki (USA) TBA
52 – Rick Ware Racing – Ligier JS P2 Nissan (USA) – Cody Ware (USA) Mark Kvamme (USA)
59 – RLR MSPORT – ORECA 05 Nissan (GBR) 0- John Farano (CAN/ B) Andrew Higgins (NZL/B) Arjun Maini (IND/S)
The pre-2017 LMP2 cars that have been the backbone of the Series for recent years return for at least one more run around the block in the LMP2 Am class, a class which will again award an auto entry for the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours to the class Championship-winning team.
Looking to do the double will be returning Championship winning team, ARC Bratislava, Miro Konopka proving to be one of the real characters of the Series, and bringing a highly competitive effort to the fore once again with Kang Ling looking to repeat his form from last season, joined by ELMS LMP3 driver Andreas Laskaratos.
Another ELMS regular, RLR MSport, bring 2019 drivers John Farano and Arjun Maini to their effort along with New Zealander Andrew Higgins, the #59 the only ORECA 05 in the entry, this the ex Jackie Chan DC racing car from last year.
The final, two-car entry is perhaps the most surprising, NASCAR team Rick Ware racing combining with current ELMS LMP3 Champions Eurointernational to field a pair of Ligier Nissans.
Cody Ware and Mark Kvamme are slated to drive one car with a TBA on the entry alongside the second.
LMP3 – 6 Cars
2 – Nielsen Racing Norma M30 (GBR) – Tony Wells (GBR/ B) Colin Wells (GBR/S)
3 – Nielsen Racing Norma M30 (GBR) – Garett Grist (CAN/S) Rob Hides (USA/B) Charles Crews (USA/B)
9 – Graff Norma M30 (FRA) – Eric Trouillet (FRA/B) Sebastien Page (CHE/B) David Droux (CHE/S)
12 – ACE1 Villorba Corse Ligier JS P3 (ITA) – Yuki Harata (JPN/S Alessandro Bressan (ITA/S) Gabriele Lancieri (ITA)
13 – Inter Europol Competition Ligier JS P3 (POL) – Martin Hippe (GER/B) Nigel Moore (GBR/S)
65 – Viper Niza Racing Ligier JS P3 (MAS) – Douglas Khoo (MAS/B) Dominic ANG (MAS/S)
In LMP3, Inter Europol Competition is returning to defend their Championship title amongst a 6 car full-season entry. Nigel Moore and Martin Hippe will be formidable once again.
Their job will not be easy though with Nielsen Racing returning with a two-car effort again this season, well established pairing Colin Noble and Tony Wells bringing one of a trio of Norma M30s to the entry, the first appearance in Asia for the pretty little French LMP3.
The second Nielsen Norma sees rapid Canadian Garett Grist joined by Americans Rob Hodes and Charles Crews, the team looking for success, and for valuable winter track time too!
Graff Racing, a familiar part of the European scene will be hoping that they can bring their LMP3 form to Asia, they too field a Norma for the season.
Malaysian team, Viper Niza return to the Series and will take further steps forward for sure with their Ligier whilst series newcomers ACE1 Villorba Corse, who have had one-off runs in the ELMS, will be a great yardstick for Douglas Khoo and co.
GT – 9 Cars
7 – Car Guy Ferrari 488 GT3 (JPN) – Takeshi Kimura (JPN/B) Kei Cozzolino (JPN/S) Antonio Fuoco (ITA/G)
16 – Astro Veloce Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 (CHN) – Yaqi Zhang CHN/B) Zhiwei Lu (CHN/B)
17 – Astro Veloce Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 (CHN) – Peiwen Qi (CHN/S) Max Wiser (BRA/S) Jens Klingmann (GER/G)
27 – HubAuto Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 (TPE) – Davide Rigon (ITA/P) Marcos Gomes (BRA/S) Morris Chen (TPE/B)
51 – Spirit Of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 (CHE) – Francesco Piovanetti (PR/B) Oswaldo Negri Jr (BRA/S) Alessandro Pier Guidi (ITA/P)
75 – T2 Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3 (IDN) – David Tjiptobiantoro (IDN/B) Rio Haryanto (IDN/P) Christian Colombo (ITA/B)
77 – D’Station Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 (JPN) – Satoshi Hoshino (JPN/B) Tomonobu Fujii (JPN/G) Ross Gunn (GBR/S)
88 – JLOC Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo (JPN) – Andre Cuoto (MAC/S) Yuya Motojima (JPN/S) Yusaku Shibata (JPN/B)
90 – FIST – Team AAI BMW M6 GT3 (CHN) – Joel Eriksson (SWE/P) Hongli Ye (CHN/S) Jun San Chen )TPE/B)
One of the most encouraging signs of all for the Series is the strength, depth, and near total Asian-based nature of a much stronger GT class for the season.
Nine cars are listed, with just the returning #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari not based in the home continent for the Series.
Four different GT manufacturers (Ferrari, BMW, Aston Martin and Lamborghini) have representative teams that are hoping to follow in the footsteps of returning champs Car Guy as they try to come out on top, and win the entry for Le Mans that comes with the Championship.
In total, the Series has attracted teams from 13 different countries, with drivers from 22 different countries.
The drivers confirmed thus far across all four classes include two ex F1 drivers, two current Ferrari F1 development drivers, a 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE winner and World Endurance Champion, as well as GT factory drivers from BWM, Ferrari and Aston Martin. Championship winners from the ELMS, Asian Le Mans Series and Michelin Le Mans Cup are also listed.
By once again making the live TV stream available for free and in full around the world, with an Asian-based crew joined again by the DSC Editor, plus an additional Chinese-commentary team for this season, the Asian Le Mans Series is one of the most accessible race series globally. The Series’ achieved a live stream audience of 4.33 million viewers around the world last season. In addition to the global reach of the stream, 1.48 million people watched over 600 hours of Series highlights that were broadcast across 104 countries on 57 channels.
The live streams of all qualifying sessions and races will continue, as will the comprehensive global tv highlights package.