The fixture clash between the Asian Le Mans Series season finale and the Interlagos-replacing FIA WEC round at CoTA is seeing a number of teams reshuffle their squads for Buriram.
Four drivers are directly affected, Ferrari factory drivers Davide Rigon and Alessandro Pier Guidi, Aston Martin Factory man Ross Gunn and WEC MR Racing/ Asian Le Mans Car Guy driver Kei Cozzolino.
The clear priority, confirmed by both Ferrari and Aston Martin Racing, is that their factory drivers will race in the WEC, Amato Ferrari offering the opinion that the clash could be good news at least for some of the younger, emerging talents in his extensive contact book!
One confirmed change is that Pier Guidi will be super-subbed by the not inconsiderably talented double Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Pro winner Daniel Serra at Buriram, Serra confirmed today as a Ferrari factory GT driver.
There is no decision yet made on which driver will replace Davide Rigon at HubAuto.
Kei Cozzolino’s position is currently that, contractually, he would prioritise his WEC programme with MR Racing, the final line-up for Buriram for Car Guy is still a work in progress.
Aston Martin Racing’s John Gaw confirmed too that planning was underway to source a suitable replacement Silver-ranked driver for Ross Gunn at D’Station Racing:
“There are a few names we have in mind, there are plenty of high-quality Silvers available.”
Mathias Lauda is understood to be one of those under consideration.
Additional knock-on effects of the clash to the race direction, technical and broadcast teams are in the process of being resolved.
Aside from Buriram, there are a couple of now confirmed driver changes for the Asian Le Mans Series’ next round in mid-January at South Australia’s The Bend Motorsport Park.
Come Ledogar, part of the Spirit of race LMP2 squad last season, is set to make a return to the Series as a replacement for Antonio Fuoco in the Car Guy Ferrari. That change is thus far confirmed only for Australia but could well see the talented Frenchman complete the season.
After missing the first round due to commitments in the Super GT Championship, Nick Cassidy will make his debut in the #1 Eurasia Motorsport Ligier JS P217. He will be replacing Masataka Yanagida.
Another new driver will be South Australian Garnet Patterson who will replace Kang Ling in the #4 ARC Bratislava Ligier JS P2 in the LMP2 Am class.
And there’s a change too at ACE1 Villorba Corse in LMP3, Yuki Harata stays on as the promoter of the effort but will cede his seat for The Bend at least, to 27-year old David Fumanelli. He’ll join Shanghai pace-setter Alessandro Bressan and Gabriele Lancieri to complete an all-Italian crew.
Raimondo Amadio, Team Principal, says: “Harata clearly remains the soul and fulcrum of the ACE1 Villorba Corse project, which now keeps on racing the Asian Le Mans Series with Fumanelli. We are happy to welcome such a young but well-experienced driver and, as an Italian team, to be able to involve an all-Italian crew. I believe that we can count on a competitive package and we look forward to getting back on track in January”.
David Fumanelli adds: “This experience will mark my LMP3 and prototype race debut. It is a new challenge as well as a bit of a surprise. It is very exciting because it will be a great way to start the 2020 season and because we will visit high-level circuits and fascinating stages. I know ACE1 Villorba Corse potential, there are all the ingredients to do well. And I also know Bressan. I am very happy to be able to share this new challenge with him, the team is already close-knit”.
Yuki Harata ends: “I am very happy to hear that Fumanelli is joining the team. It is a great addition and I think will make the team stronger. Right now I am very busy with my new venture in the United States. I will follow and cheer the team hoping to get a great result!”.