Whilst the 2019/20 Asian Le Mans Series got underway just last weekend in Shanghai, plans are already well-advanced on next season’s calendar.
And Cyrille Taesch Wahlen and his tight-knit team look to have pulled off another coup, following on from the addition to the current season of a round in January 2020 Down Under at The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia, next season will see the Series visit another venue which is set to prove popular with competitors and fans alike as Suzuka Circuit in Japan is set to host the opening round of the 2020/21 Asian Le Mans Series.
The Asian Le Mans Series race is set to see the first visit of the Series to the home of the F1 Japanese Grand Prix, indeed the first visit of any ACO-rules race there (subject to anything we might here from the FIA WEC’s calendar for next season!)
The Suzuka round will be held on 20/22 November 2020 and will be the first time that the Series has held its opening round in Japan.
Suzuka Circuit was the first full-scale international racing circuit in Japan. Designed as a Honda test track in 1962, the original decision to develop a new permanent circuit was made by Soichiro Honda. Operated by the Mobilityland Corporation, which is a subsidiary of Honda Motor Co, Ltd. the circuit is located Ino, Suzuka City, Mie Prefecture.
One of only a few circuits in the world to have a “figure eight” layout, Suzuka has a 1.2 km back straight that passes over the front section track.
There is no confirmation as yet whether the Japanese race will see the Series adopt a five-race calendar, or whether the Shanghai round will move or be replaced.
The Asian Le Mans Series has previously raced at Okayama (a one-off event in 2009), and every season at Fuji from 2013 until the current season which does not feature a visit to Japan.
Prior to that, the short-lived, ACO rules Japan Le Mans Challenge in 2006 and 2007 visited Sugo, Motegi and Okayama in its first season adding a Fuji round to its second and final year (pic below from Okayama in 2006, Janos Wimpffen).
The FIA WEC has visited Fuji Speedway in each of its eight seasons thus far.
Kaoru Tanaka, President Representative Director of MOBILITYLAND CORP: “I am very pleased that the Asian Le Mans Series will be held for the first time at Suzuka Circuit. This decision will further strengthen the relationship between Le Mans and Suzuka Circuit that have concluded a friendship agreement, and we will continue to deepen exchanges and cooperation with ACO so that we can continue to contribute to the development of motorsport in Japan and Asia.”
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “I am delighted by this announcement, which marks both the return of the Asian Le Mans Series to Japan and further strengthens the nature of the partnership between Le Mans and Suzuka and highlights the friendship agreement that was sealed a few months ago as part of our motorcycle World Endurance Championship events. I thank President Tanaka for contributing to this strong cooperation dynamic. ”
Cyrille Taesch Wahlen, Managing Director of the Asian Le Mans Series: “We wanted to go back to Japan and being able to do so within the context of our next year’s season opening round, and for the first time at Suzuka, is extremely satisfying and exciting. The attractiveness of such a legendary track, combined with the constant growth of the Asian Le Mans Series should create a momentous event.”