Asian Le Mans Series is getting ready for the third round of the 2019/20 championship, which will be held on 15 February in Malaysia.
The race will be the first Asian LMS race finishing after sunset. Sepang International Circuit got lights installed in fall 2019, but not as strong as the Formula 1 demands, but it is some lighting – just like at the FIA WEC race in Bahrain, where the lights aren’t running on full beam.
This will be a brand next experience for large parts of the field, who haven’t previously raced after sunset. Some of the drivers have already tried it at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, or the Dubai 24 Hours, but it will be a new task for the rest. The second practice on Friday will be run around and post-sunset, while FP1 will be run in the late afternoon sun.
Saturday will be very busy with qualifying to start at midday, and the race starting at 17.00 local time. The sun officially sets at 19,27, so the drivers will have just over one hour in complete darkness – if the sun will shine, that is.
There are, unfortunately, some absentees on the entry list compared to the first two rounds. Partly due to damaged cars, and partly due to the Coronavirus keeping two Chinese teams from participating, since the mechanics are not allowed to leave the country.
So there won’t be any FIST Team AAI, who was scheduled to run a brand new Porsche. The team has run BMW for many years, but the car was crashed at the opening round, so they have switched to Porsche instead. The other team is also a BMW team, in the shape of Astro Veloce Motorsports, so we will lose a total for three cars in the GT field. We do however still have four Ferrari’s, plus an Aston Martin Martin and a Lamborghini, so we are still secured a good fight in the category.
The LMP2 Am field has sadly been cut into half since the RLR MSport car was so severely damaged in their fire in Australia, that the team has opted to pull out. ARC Bratislava won’t be on the entry list either since the team has pulled out due to personal reasons, as stated in the press release. That leaves only Rick Ware Racing left, and they have already secured an entry for this year’s Le Mans race, since they are already championship leaders, and they are planning to the two remaining rounds anyway, while neither RLR MSport nor ARC Bratislava will be present in the following race in Thailand either.
The LMP2 field, on the other hand, has got a car back. K2 Uchino Racing is back, with Haruki Kurosawa being fit once again. Graff enters a second car in LMP3, driven by Matthias Kaiser and Rory Penttinen.
Inter Europol Competition #14 has swapped drivers once again. Philip Kadoorie will share the Ligier JS P3 with Dan Wells.
JLOC Lamborghini #88 has swapped Andre Couto for Takashi Kogure, so it’s an all-Japanese team with Yuya Motojima and Yusaku Shibata as the two other drivers in the car.
Masataka Yanagida is back in Eurasia Motorsport #1 after Shaun van Gisbergen had a one-off in Australia. He will share the car once again with Nick Cassidy and Daniel Gaunt.
That makes a total of 23 cars entered, so it’s still a very respectable field despite the teams that can’t make the race.
New for this weekend will be the streaming of FP2 on Friday evening local time, just like the qualifying and the race can be viewed on the Asian Le Mans Series YouTube channel.