The Asian Le Mans Series has responded to industry concerns around post COVID-19 costs and calendar congestion by unveiling a radically revised 2020/21 season that will see the 4 x 4 hour race format retained, but will see all four races take place in January 2021 over a three week period.
The season will now start (and finish!) in January 2021 with a pair of races at Chang International Circuit, Buriram, Thailand (above) followed by a pair at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia (top, both FIA Grade 1 facilities.
The changes come after extensive discussions with existing and potential additional teams and series partners.
The revisions to the calendar, which sees the planned visits to Suzuka, Japan and Shanghai, China cancelled in November and December 2020 respectively, have been made taking into consideration the time it will take teams to ship, (rather than airfreight), the cars to and from Asia, possible travel restrictions, health and safety in the paddock and also cost implications.
The Series intends to return to both Suzuka and Shanghai as soon as possible with the Asian Le Mans Series audience in China particularly strong, and growing.
DSC has contacted multiple teams for comment, initial responses to the revisions have been highly favourable, in particular in relation to both the cost savings across the season – estimated by the teams themselves at between 80k Euro and 150k Euro – and to the move to help reduce congestion on the calendar, set to be a significant logistical issue for teams in the later months of 2020 as the sport attempts to recover ground lost to the pandemic response.
More from the teams later today on DSC.
Amended 2020 / 2021 Asian Le Mans Series Calendar
Race 1: Buriram Chang International Circuit, Thailand 9 January 2021 (Children’s Day)
Race 2: Buriram Chang International Circuit, Thailand 11 January 2021
Race 3: Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia 23 January 2021
Race 4: Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia 26 January 2021
There is a clash with the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona though crossover between teams is likely to be minimal.
Cyrille Taesch Wahlen, Managing Director of the Asian Le Mans Series:
“Whilst it was our ambition to keep our 2020 / 2021 calendar as close to what we have done previously, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this may not be possible. Instead, rather than delaying any further, we have formulated a plan to deliver a Series that offers exciting and enjoyable racing in a cost effective manner, without compromising the quality of our organisation. This is particularly important for those teams who are struggling at the moment due to the shutdown. The new condensed season has received resounding support, and I am optimistic that we can deliver another great Asian Le Mans Series season.”
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest:
“The Motorsport landscape has been forced to make significant changes this year as a result of the impact Covid-19 has been having around the world. We are faced with challenges we would never have anticipated, and it is our responsibility to make every effort to ensure the health and safety of all of those involved. Our decisions not only balance that, but it is also the most sensible option in the circumstances. It offers a new and exciting package, and I look forward to enjoying the racing once it gets underway.”