Even the first iteration of the Asian Le Mans Series in 2009 wouldn’t look as promising as the 2016/2017 season in terms of entries, firstly with the news of 31 full season entries and now with 33 cars confirmed for the first round of the competition, the 4 Hours of Zhuhai.
As stated in the announcement of the full season grid, for Zhuhai the most noticeable point is the incredible growth of LMP3 entrants, going from 3 cars in 2015/2016 to 11 cars for the season to start. The LMP2 class keeps the 4 car count from the last season while the GT class its good numbers with 16 cars, while CN and GT Cup have their lone runners.
The class champions are returning to defend their titles but with some differences in lineups and cars. LMP2 champions from Race Performance will appear with an entirely new trio as CN racers Giorgio Maggi and Denis Lian join Struan Moore. DC Racing reallocated Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent to their LMP2 entry, leaving only the team owner David Cheng in their Ligier JS P3 at the moment. GT champions from Clearwater Racing will trust in former team member Matt Griffin to join Mok Weng Sun and Keita Sawa in their new Ferrari 488 GT3. Le Mans entrant Team AAI comes as usual with their fleet, featuring four cars spread between two McLarens, a BMW and a Mercedes.
The European force comes in a good number to compete in Asia, as Algarve Pro Racing brings a pair of Ligier JS P2 models for the LMP2 class, ARC Bratislava is coming with a pair of Ginetta LMP3 cars, Tockwith Motorsports is appearing with a Ligier JS P3, and finally Vincenzo Sospiri Racing will be in the GT class with a single Lamborghini Huracán GT3, and due to some Asian driver appearances with their Huracán Super Trofeo in the Italian GT Championship, probably at least one of them will fill the TBA slots at the moment.
But the Asian Le Mans Series was also successful in capturing some big names in the region, with teams like Absolute Racing, BBT Racing and KCMG returning to the competition, and FFF Racing by ACM making its Asian LMS debut as they are gradually expanding their operations around Asia and the World.
The 4 Hours of Zhuhai will occur on October 28th-30th, being this the debut of the increased race length in the series.
PHOTO: Asian Le Mans Series