An incredible season is waiting for the Asian Le Mans Series 2021.
The list is still subject to changes, with quite a lot of empty seats, but those gaps will hopefully soon be filled.
The LMP2 category consists of seven cars, where well-known LMP teams like Eurointernational, G-Drive Racing (Algarve Pro Racing), Era Motorsport (JOTA) and JOTA, will fight against the rookies Racing Team India and Phoenix Racing. While the former is brand new in motorsport, we know Phoenix racing from GT3 racing, and former DTM team with Audi. The Audi connection is still there, but the team wants to try out prototype racing – perhaps ahead of an Audi LMDh programme in 2023.
Racing Team India are new to sportscars. The first F1 driver of the nation, Narain Karthikeyan will lead that effort, with Arjun Maini and Naveen Rao will be students of the old master. Karthikeyan has experience from sportscar racing, where he raced the Kolles R10 Diesel-LMP1 cars about 10 years ago. Maini was single-seater driver until 2019, where he opted to go into sportscars with RLR MSport in European Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He was scheduled to race for Algarve Pro Racing in the ELMS 2020, but got locked in India during the COVID-19, and only returned to Europe towards the latter stages of the year, so he only managed a single race for the team at the Monza ELMS round. Naveen Rao is racing under the American flag, and has LMP3 experience from the US, but will also step up to LMP2 cars in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.
The majority of the teams have opted for the ORECA 07 Gibson, with G-Drive Racing calling it an Aurus, other than Eurointernational bringing their Ligier JS P217, that made its debut at Le Mans 2020.
Phoenix Racing will also be present in the LMP3 category, but still with their drivers to be announced. Well-known teams like United Autosports, Nielsen Racing, RLR MSport, DKR Engineering and CD Sport are also present on the entry list. The most interesting entry might be ARC Bratislava. They are going to be the first team to use Ginetta LMP3 cars. Other than them, only DKR Engineering will use something else than a Ligier JS P320 – DKR have opted for a Duqueine M30 – D08.
The LMP cars will be beaten by the GT3 cars in numbers in the Asian LMS 2021. With a total of seven LMP2 and ten LMP3 cars, will bring the LMP cars to a total of seventeen cars, against the nineteen in GT3.
There is a lot of new names, that are not regulars in ACO racing. The defending champions from HubAuto Racing with their Ferrari are back. We have D’Station Racing back with their Aston Martin, and AF Corse bringing a whole bunch of Ferraris. TF Sport will bring two AMR cars, and have a very good chance of being a huge factor in the category.
The Danish Formula Racing team back in ACO racing, following their European Le Mans Series title in 2015, and the subsequent 24 Hours of Le Mans debut in 2016. They have mainly focussed on Ferrari Challenge racing since then. Johnny Laursen is back in the car, just like he was the last time out. FIA WEC GTE Am Champion Nicklas Nielsen will lead the team, while the third driver of the car will be Ferrari Challenge Europe 2020 Champion Frederik Paulsen.
INCEPTION RACING with Optimum will bring the only McLaren to the field, which is a nice car to see in ACO racing, just like Walkenhorst Motorsport will bring two BMW cars. GPX Racing and Precote Herberth Motorsport will bring a total of three Porsche racers, which isn’t a normal sight in the Asian Le Mans Series. That has previously been dominated by BMW and Ferrari cars, with an occasional Aston joining.
Absolute Racing hasn’t decided just yet, what marque of car, that they are going to use in 2021, but they are usually a Porsche team.
The full list of entered cars can be viewed here.
The Asian Le Mans Series will run over four races from 4-20 February in Abu Dhabi.