The Asian Le Mans Series has released a provisional four-round calendar for the 2020-21 season which is scheduled to get underway in November.
The championship is set to hold four-hour races at Suzuka, Shanghai, Buriram and Sepang, while the Australian event at The Bend has been dropped from the schedule.
Suzuka is the only new venue on the calendar and is set to open the season on the previously-announced date of Nov. 29.
It will be followed by a third consecutive visit to Shanghai International Circuit, which will host a race on Dec. 13, while the first 2021 event will be held at Buriram on Jan. 9.
The season will conclude at Sepang, which had been the traditional finale venue from the inaugural 2013 season until the previous campaign when it switched places with Buriram.
The Sepang round is set to take place on Jan. 23, marking an earlier finish than previous seasons.
This has been done to enable teams to ship rather than air-freight their cars and equipment back to Europe and North America for the start of the summer racing season.
It also factors in the break for Chinese New Year which falls on Feb. 12 and lasts for two weeks.
“Despite the difficult times we are all going through, and the uncertainty we are all operating in, we feel it is important that we let our teams and drivers know what our initial plans are and provide them visibility of our new season,” said series managing director Cyrille Taesch Wahlen.
“The health and well-being of our team, the competitors who race with us, our fans and all members of our paddock remain our priority.
“Therefore, we will continue to monitor the situation very closely and react immediately with a Plan B ready, should the situation require.”
Taesch Wahlen added that the championship “remains absolutely committed” to returning to Australia, following The Bend’s omission from the new calendar.
The series made its first visit to Oceania last season with a four-hour race that was won by eventual champion G-Drive Racing by Algarve.
“The entire paddock enjoyed our first trip to Australia and in particular the exciting challenges The Bend Motorsport Park offered the drivers,” said Taesch Wahlen.
“Unfortunately given the current global situation and its economic consequences, coupled with the logistics and calendar constraints we had to make the very difficult decision not to return in the 2020-21 season.”
Previous-Gen LMP2 Cars Phased Out
The Asian LMS has also confirmed that LMP2 cars made before 2017 will no longer be eligible to enter the championship.
Previous-gen cars were allowed to compete in the LMP2 Am Trophy last season, while current-gen machinery raced in the main LMP2 class for overall honors.
This meant Asian LMS was the only series in the world still permitting cars from the open era of LMP2, before the formula was tightened to four constructors in 2017.
The LMP2 Am Trophy sub-class will be retained in 2020-21, but it will only be open to the Gibson-powered cars from ORECA, Ligier, Dallara and Riley.
2020-21 Asian Le Mans Series Schedule:
Nov. 29 – 4H Suzuka
Dec. 13 – 4H Shanghai
Jan. 9 – 4H Buriram
Jan. 23 – 4H Sepang