Asian Le Mans Series has released what they are hoping to be the 2020/21 schedule.
Everything is a bit up in the air at the moment due to the COVID-19 situation, and that has had some influence on the schedule too.
The season will once again consist of 4 rounds, but will be a lot more compressed that previous seasons.
The opening round will be on 29 November at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan. That is the first time in this century, that the Prototype cars eligible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, are going to compete at the track.
Two weeks later the series goes to China and the Shanghai venue, which has been the opening round in the past few years.
All teams will go on a Christmas break until their return on 9 January at Buriram in Thailand, which is the Children’s Day in Thailand, which is a huge event. The races had been run on that specific weekend before, and it had been a huge success at the track, which is located east of Bangkok.
The season will conclude on 23 January at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, with a race starting in the daylight and finishing off in the dark, just like in the just concluded season. The weather gods will hopefully be a bit kinder than in 2020, where a huge thunderstorm hit the circuit shortly before planned race start, taking out a lot of electronic equipment at the circuit, and that had to be fixed, before the race was able to start with about 2 hours of delay.
There unfortunately will be no space for Australia in the schedule this coming season. It was a fantastic experience for all the teams, but it was quite expensive to go there. Due to this COVID-19 pandemic, and the uncertainty regarding the economy following it, the series has chosen to skip the trip to The Bend, but hopes to be back in the future, when things have stabilized again. There has been talks of extending the series to five races, but that has been postponed for at least one season.
Two reasons of the early season finale is the Chinese New Year, which will be in the middle of February. That will result in some of the teams and other things around the series, either being on their way home, or already at home with their families – and before things get going again, the majority of February will be gone. Another reason is for the European teams being able to ship their cars back to Europe, well ahead of the season start. This year it was needed to air freight them home, to be able to be ready for planned ELMS season – which would have been just one month after the finale, if this virus hadn’t put a halt on everything. In addition, it will be the weekend prior to the Daytona 24 Hours, if some of the economically strong teams would be interesting in flying their car to America, and compete with the same chassis.
The schedule in general is build in a way, so it avoids FIA WEC, ELMS and IMSA clashes. The final race of the ELMS 2020 season is planned for 1 November, the finale in FIA WEC on 22 November, and as previously mention, the IMSA season starting on 30-31 January 2021.
From the sporting side of things, there will still be four categories – LMP2, LMP2 Am, LMP3 and GT. Only change is that the LMP2 Am cars will have to be current spec of LMP2, i.e. the 2017 models. There will be brand new LMP3 cars, which makes their debut in Europe for the 2020 season. There will be a new LMP2 car out for 2022, but there are no current talks of implementing that to Asian LMS just yet.
The current planned schedule looks like this, subject to changes:
Round 1: Suzuka Circuit, Japan
29 November 2020
Round 2: Shanghai International Circuit, China
13 December 2020
Round 3: Buriram Chang International Circuit, Thailand
9 January 2021
Round 4: Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
23 January 2021