Like the European series – but unlike ALMS which is supervised by IMSA – the Asian LMS is being operated directly by the Automobile Club de L'Ouest (ACO), the century-old group responsible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans since its inception. Taking the place of the defunct Japan Le Mans Challenge, the Asian Le Mans Series is set to kick off at the end of October with the 1000km of Okayama at the circuit that hosted the Pacific Grand Prix in 1994 and 1995.
Race organizers have done their best to attract both local entries as well as established teams from the American and European championships, and they have brought in some big guns: Aston Martin will be there in the top LMP1 category along with a pair of private entry Audi R10s and a few privateer Orecas and Judds. A few Porsches, Astons, Lambos, Saleens and Ferraris are set to round out the lower classes, including Rahal Letterman's BMW M3 GT2, fresh from their double class victory at Road Atlanta. All in all, 23 entries have been confirmed for the inaugural event, which will include two races in support of the World Touring Car Championship round the same weekend.
So far, the Okayama event is the only race on the calendar, but winners from each of the four categories will qualify for automatic entry at the title event in France next year. Follow the jump for more information in the press release.
[Source: Asian Le Mans Series]
Already 23 entries for a « Grande Première! »
The Asian Le Mans Series will kick off in Japan on 31st October 2009. Well before the closing date for entries (5th September), the presence of 23 cars has already been confirmed. All the big endurance names will be there!
Lola-Aston Martin, Pescarolo-Judd, ORECA-AIM and Audi R10 – it's a great start! The 2 races on the Okayama circuit on Saturday 31st October and Sunday 1st November, each lasting 3 hours, will launch the Asian Le Mans Series, and will be the theatre of a no-holds-barred battle between the main protagonists in both prototype and GT endurance racing. The Aston Martin Racing team has entered a works Lola-Aston Martin for Jan Charouz, Stefan Mücke and Tomas Enge, the current LMS leaders. In LM P1, they will be up against 2 Pescarolo-Judds, the ORECA O1-AIM and the two Team Kolles Audi R10s. Paul Drayson Racing will make its debut in this category with a brand-new Lola coupe powered by a Judd engine. There is also a 100% Japanese team, as Professor Yoshimsa Hayashi and his students' Tokai University squad have entered the Courage-Oreca LC70-YGK seen at Le Mans in 2008.
"We're very happy to welcome several Asian teams", says Rémy Brouard, the ACO General Manager. "The Asian Le Mans Series will be a key element in the Intercontinental Trophy project we're determined to set up in 2011, which will include a selection of between five and seven races from all the Le Mans Series: LMS, ALMS and Asian LMS".
There will be several Asian teams competing including two in GT1, the Team Nova Aston Martin and the 2 JLOC Lamborghinis, whose main rival will be the French-entered Saleen of Larbre Competition. Another Aston Martin DBR9 is expected in GT1. Japanese teams are also present in LM GT2 with the Hankook KTR Porsche 997 RSR and the Team Daisin Ferrari F430 GT, while an Aston Martin DBR9 will come from Hong Kong.
The big news in GT2 is the arrival of one of the works BMW E 92 M3s racing in this year's ALMS entered by RLR (Rahal Letterman Racing), which have just scored a double at Road Atlanta.
At present there are 8 entries in the LM GT2 category rounded off by the 2 Felbermayr-Proton team Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, the Hankook Farnbacher team's Ferrari F430 GTs, and Robertson Racing with one of the new generation Ford Doran GT MK 7s (with both Robertsons among its drivers). Japan will be its only race outside the USA this season.
For the moment, there are 3 entries in LM P2: the Italian team Racing Box with its Lola-Judd coupe, the OAK Racing Pescarolo-Mazda and the Navi Team Goh Porsche RS spyder. The ACO and ORECA wanted to invite the first 2 teams in the Formula Le Mans Cup Championship to Okayama. Unfortunately, it proved impossible as the launch of the Asian Le Mans Series clashes with the start of the new Formula Le Mans Winter Cup.
With 4 days to go to the closing date for entries, the field is made up of 12 different marques representing 6 nations.
Entries on 01-09-2009:
N° LM P1 NAT PNEUMATIQUE VOITURE / CAR
009 ASTON MARTIN RACING GBR MICHELIN LOLA ASTON MARTIN
10 TEAM ORECA MATMUT AIM FRA MICHELIN ORECA AIM
11 TOKAI UNIV.YGH POWER JPN YOKOHAMA COURAGE ORECA - YGK
14 KOLLES DEU MICHELIN AUDI R 10
15 KOLLES DEU MICHELIN AUDI R 10
16 SORA RACING FRA MICHELIN PESCAROLO JUDD
17 SORA RACING FRA MICHELIN PESCAROLO JUDD
87 DRAYSON RACING GBR MICHELIN LOLA COUPE JUDD
N° LM P2 NAT PNEUMATIQUE VOITURE / CAR
5 NAVI TEAM GOH JPN MICHELIN PORSCHE RS SPYDER
24 OAK RACING FRA DUNLOP PESCAROLO MAZDA
28 IBANEZ RACING FRA DUNLOP COURAGE AER
N° LM GT1 NAT PNEUMATIQUE VOITURE / CAR
50 LARBRE COMPETITION FRA MICHELIN SALEEN S7R
61 TEAM NOVA JPN YOKOHAMA ASTON MARTIN DBR9
68 JLOC JPN DUNLOP LAMBORGHINI
69 JLOC JPN DUNLOP LAMBORGHINI
N° LM GT2 NAT PNEUMATIQUE VOITURE / CAR
70 ROBERTSON RACING, LLC USA DUNLOP FORD GT MK7
71 TEAM DAISHIN JPN YOKOHAMA FERRARI F 430 GT
77 TEAM FELBERMAYR-PROTON DEU MICHELIN PORSCHE 911 GT3 RSR (997)
88 TEAM FELBERMAYR-PROTON DEU MICHELIN PORSCHE 911 GT3 RSR (997)
89 HANKOOK - TEAM FARNBACHER DEU HANKOOK FERRARI F 430 GT
90 BMW RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING TEAM USA DUNLOP BMW E92 M3
91 TEAM HONG KONG RACING CHN MICHELIN ASTON MARTIN VANTAGE
98 HANKOOK - KTR JPN HANKOOK PORSCHE 911 GT3 RSR (997)
AIM, MICHELIN GREN X CHALLENGE, MAZDA, DHL, BOSCH
The teams are not the only ones interested in the inauguration of the Asian Le Mans Series: the partners have also made a big effort. Thus, the ACO has just received the backing of AIM as the main sponsor. The Japanese engineering company joins MICHELIN GREEN X CHALLENGE, MAZDA – supplier of the official intervention and safety vehicles - DHL and BOSCH: a list of prestigious brands which may grow longer in the coming weeks.
FIA WTCC + ASIAN LE MANS SERIES = A THRILLING WEEKEND IN PERSPECTIVE!
The Japanese spectators at Okayama can look forward to a thrilling weekend. The inaugural races of the Asian Le Mans Series will be held at the same time as the 11th round of the WTCC, the World Touring Car Championship, run in two heats on Sunday, whose promoter is Eurosport Events. Site: www.fiawtcc.com
The OKAYAMA circuit
It was built in 1992 and measures 3,703 kms. It is 60 kms north of Okayama and hosted the Pacific Grand Prix in 1994 and 1995 under the name of the Adria circuit. www.okayama-international-circuit.jp
With the FIA-WTCC
The Asian Le Mans Series at Okayama is being held at the same time as the FIA-WTCC, the World Touring Car Championship whose promoter is Eurosport Events.
MICHELIN Green X Challenge
The challenge, which is organised in the context of the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Le Mans Series and the ALMS, rewards teams that have optimised performance and fuel consumption: it will be extended to the Asian Le Mans Series. www.michelingreenracing.com
4 automatic selections for the 2010 LE MANS 24 HOURS
The winners (both races combined) in all 4 categories, LM P1, LM P2, LM GT1 and LM GT2, will be automatically selected for the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours.
An influx of Japanese drivers?
Numerous Japanese drivers are currently in discussion with LM P1 and LM P2 teams for a seat, so Takuma Sato, Hideki Noda, Seiji Ara, Shinji Nakano and Sakon Yamamoto may be part of the best teams.
Provisional timetable (to be confirmed)
Friday 30th October; free practice from 09h00 to 10h00 and 11h45 to 12h45. Qualifying (20mn + 5mn + 20mn) from 16h15 to 17h00.
Saturday 31st October: Warm up from 08h00 to 08h15: Race 1 from 12h35 to 15h35
Sunday 1st November: Race 2 from 09h05 to 12h05.