The Asian Le Mans Series has just released their 2018/19 calendar.
The announcement was made during the 2017/18 final race weekend, and ACO, who is behind the Asian LMS, has released the four dates, that they are going to race on this upcoming winter.
The start of the season will be moved back one month compared to 2017, so they will be well clear of the European Le Mans Series. That will hopefully give the European teams the opportunity to go to Asian, and race through the winter. The ELMS season finale and the Asian LMS weekend were run on two consecutive weekends this season, so it was impossible of the European to prepare and ship the cars to Asia.
The season starts on 23-25 November in Shanghai, which will replace the Zhuhai track. The race is run on the weekend following the FIA World Endurance Championship has on the same circuit, which gives the teams and drivers the opportunity to stay at the track, in case they want to compete in both. The FIA WEC is on their winter break during the full Asian LMS 2018/19 calendar, so it’s a golden chance for some extra racing.
The race in Fuji, Japan is run two weeks later. Fuji has been a constant on the Asian LMS calendar ever since the ACO started the series. The Japanese spectators love racing, so that fits perfect into the schedule, when every other series is on pause during the winter.
After one month of Christmas and New Year’s holiday, the Asian LMS returns to the Buriram track in Thailand. The event is once again held on the weekend of the Children’s Day in Thailand, which is a national holiday. There was more than 100.000 spectators at the 2018 event, so it has proven itself to be a huge success.
The final will be run at Sepang on 22-24 February, which is three weeks later than this year. The reason behind that, is to avoid date clashes with the Bathurst 12 Hours, which is also racing this current weekend, and prevents Chaz Mostert from competing and potentially winning the Championship with his regular FIST Team AAI. Furthermore the date will move the event away from the Chinese New Year’s time, which some of the teams celebrate.
This is the first time in history that the Asian Le Mans Series calendar consists of 4 tracks with FIA Grade 1 license, which gives them the permission to run a Formula 1 race. That proves that the level on and off the track will continue to rise, and that combined with keeping the race off all other races, will hopefully give a boost on the entry list for the upcoming season. Prior to the current season, the hopes was for 30 cars, but the actual numbers has been 14-15 cars at each round.
The Asian Le Mans Series also announced an extension with Michelin as the sole tire supplier for the next three seasons.
The duration of the race wasn’t announced, but the 4 hours format combined with a single 6 hours race appears to be a good choice for the teams, and it’s a combination of the ELMS and FIA WEC races, so the Asian LMS teams try a bit of both, before they hopefully will move on towards the FIA WEC, like we have seen with Clearwater Racing and Jackie Chan DC Racing, or if they want to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The full 2018/19 calendar looks like this:
23-25 November 2018 – Shanghai, China
7-9 December 2018 – Fuji, Japan
10-12 January 2019 – Buriram, Thailand
22-24 February 2019 – Sepang, Malaysia