The Asian Le Mans Series has been held for two years and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, creator and organiser of the Le Mans 24 Hours since 1923, and promoter of the major world endurance racing series starting with the FIA World Endurance Championship, has decided to take over the running of the Asian championship.
The Asian Le Mans Series began in 2013 after a licence agreement had been reached with an Asian company – S2M. The first year ended in encouraging fashion in December 2013 in Malaysia with a 14-car grid. Thanks to their results in the first Asian Le Mans Series OAK Racing Team Asia, AF Corse and Craft Racing AMR won invitations to take part in the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours. Looking to 2014 the ACO and its partners were confident that the series had a rosy future ahead of it with the introduction of the CN category in 2014 and the perspective of the arrival of the LM P3s in the following years.
Field too small
However, at the end of the 2014 season the ACO can no longer be satisfied with a field that is still too small.
The Asian Le Mans Series is a major competition in the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s strategy and its endurance pyramid. It should be the extension on the Asian continent of the values of Le Mans-type endurance racing: duration of the events and a mixed field combining GTs and prototypes as well as professional and amateur drivers.
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest is currently working on the future calendar. Obviously, such a change requires time to ensure its success so the 2015 season will comprise three events organised in the second half of the year. One will be part of a major endurance weekend.
At the end of the 2015 season the best teams will be invited to take part in the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours and the criteria of these invitations will be announced later on.
In 2016, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest is planning a series of five rounds and invitations for the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours will again be awarded to the best teams.
In parallel, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest with its Asian partners will continue to support the implantation of circuits in China.
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest said “Asian motor sport is booming. In this context the ACO is determined to continue promoting its favourite branch of the sport – endurance – in Asia. After two years the Asian Le Mans series is facing a major crisis in expanding its growth on a large scale. But for us throwing in the towel is out of the question, quite the opposite in fact! We’ve got every confidence in its future. To stabilise the Asian championship it is vital to give this series a new lease of life. Thanks to the partners, teams and drivers who have remained faithful to us we’ll build a new Asian Le Mans Series together, one which will have the place it deserves in the Le Mans-type endurance pyramid.”