Asian LMS season review I: mission accomplished

2016 started with the Asian Le Mans Series being one of the first series to hit the road, and it didn’t fail to deliver what they delivered on track last year, like it was written in our mid-season review: good spectacles on track.

Entry numbers for Buriram and Sepang didn’t suffer any drops from 2015, which was the first point where ACO and the Asian LMS scored points with everyone. 17 at Buriram and 20 at Sepang, with the LMP2 class being in a four-way battle in these rounds, coming from a continent that had and has lots of prototype presence at Le Mans but is still giving its first steps back to a prototype culture, since they are more inclined to GT and touring cars. LMP3 kept its entries, although Team AAI suffered a setback for the last round.

Another thing that deserves applause it’s the GT class, which even came to a point of having entry counts in the double digit order, with the diversity of machinery you would see in GT Asia and in the 12 Hours of Sepang. With some teams trying their luck in the second half of the season, we were able to see series regulars like Team AAI, Clearwater Racing and ARC Bratislava face off the Bentley arm of Absolute Racing, an absolute duel of giants. Light even appeared in the GT-Am class, as the lone KCMG Porsche Cup car got an opponent.

At the same time we saw the best in the continent, we saw some huge surprises, like the GT class win by Nexus Infinity at Buriram, and the pair of victories by the consolidated open wheel duo of Sean Gelael and Antonio Giovinazzi, in their first Le Mans Prototype races of their lives, leaving behind even the champions from Race Performance.

Going down the tracks, Buriram deserve the most of applause. Thanks to a holiday right along with the Asian LMS round, 100.000 people were at the Thai circuit to watch the 3 Hours of Thailand. This new circuit may become regular place for touring and GT categories worldwide, so the Asian LMS should really consider this track their second house with Sepang.

Coverage of the races were in fact good, even though we only had a live timing system and the post race highlights on YouTube this season, but it’s understandable that the expected livestream transmission wasn’t there: this season was intended to put order in the house, and before thinking in transmitting the competition to the world, it was needed to give something worth to watch in the track.

Most of the goals of the renewed Asian Le Mans Series were achieved in the first season, specially rescuing the series from its initial unattracting state. Now that the competition is in a solid state, some secondary goals like more Asian prototype teams and a live transmission deal can get more of the attention of the organizers now, to present an improved spectacle in the end of October.

PHOTOS: Asian Le Mans Series