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Asian Le Mans Series

Large GT Field Headlines Record 36-Car Season Entry

Large GT3 grid headlines 36-car entry for Asian LMS season in Abu Dhabi…

Photo: Porsche

The Asian Le Mans Series has revealed a record 36-car provisional entry list for its 2021 season including a large 19-car field for the GT category.

Most of the entries are in the GT class while LMP2 and LMP3 have seven and ten cars signed up for the four-round season taking place at Yas Marina Circuit in February.

Several GT3 teams have committed to multi-car entries including Walkenhorst Motorsport, which recently won the Kyalami 9 Hour to guide BMW’s Augusto Farfus and Nicky Catsburg to the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli drivers’ title.

Walkenhorst will run a pair of BMW M6 GT3s for its Asian LMS debut while Rinaldi Racing, Garage 59, TF Sport, Precote Herberth Motorsport, AF Corse and Absolute Racing are all set to run two cars.

Last year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa winner GPX Racing, Ferrari IGTC squad HubAuto Racing and Japanese Aston Martin customer D’station Racing are also involved.

GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup Pro-Am champion Garage 59 announced part of its driver lineup on Thursday morning, with 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE-Pro winner Maxime Martin joining Alexander West in one of the team’s Aston Martin Vantage GT3s.

The second Garage 59 car will see on-loan R-Motorsport driver Marvin Kirchhofer team up with 2018 Road to Le Mans winner Mike Benham, while both of the lineups’ Silver-rated drivers have yet to be announced.

“The 2021 Asian Le Mans Series is very well-timed for us,” said Garage 59 team principal Andrew Kirkaldy.

“It gives the drivers a lot of competitive running before the summer GT3 season starts and from a logistical point of view is it fairly straightforward.

“The added bonus is that if you do well you can gain a Le Mans entry, which is something that every team would love to have.”

Inception Racing by Optimum Motorsport also confirmed on Thursday morning that Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy will be two of the drivers in its McLaren 720S GT3.

It is set to mark the first McLaren entry in the series since OD Racing fielded a McLaren 650S GT3 during the 2016-17 season.

Optimum has one of three GT3 cars shown as ‘Am’ competitors, the others being Rinaldi Racing’s No. 66 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 and the No. 91 Absolute Racing entry.

Combined 17 Cars in Prototype Ranks

A total of seven entries are shown in the LMP2 category, including two ORECA-based Aurus 01 Gibsons for G-Drive Racing, which is being run by Algarve Pro Racing.

Algarve Pro has already announced both of its driver lineups including a car for Ye Yifei, Rene Binder and DTM driver Ferdinand Habsburg.

Nürburgring 24 winner Phoenix Racing will run an Oreca 07 Gibson as previously announced, while WEC regular Jota Sport will make its Asian LMS return with an Oreca.

Jota last had an involvement in the series in the 2018-19 campaign when it supported a couple of Jackie Chan DC Racing entries for one-off appearances.

IMSA team Era Motorsport and Racing Team India are also signed up with Orecas, while Eurointernational is the only outfit running a Ligier JS P217 Gibson.

In LMP3, United Autosports will run a trio Ligier JS P320 Nissans as confirmed last week, while Nielsen Racing will operate the category’s other multi-car entry with two examples of the same car type.

Nielsen, which won the 2019-20 Asian LMS title with a Norma M30 Nissan, recently took delivery of a new Ligier and has already undertaken testing at Donington Park.

LMP2 outfit Phoenix will also appear in the second-tier prototype class with one car, while CD Sport and RLR MSport have also registered single Ligier entries.

The only teams with non-Ligier machinery in LMP3 are ARC Bratislava – which is set to run a Ginetta G61-LT-P3 for team owner Miro Konopka and former LMP1 driver Mike Simpson – and reigning Michelin Le Mans Cup champion DKR Engineering which has a Duqueine D08 Nissan.

“It is very positive to see such a strong Asian Le Mans Series grid,” commented ACO President Pierre Fillon.

“This year has been tough for a lot of our teams, but I am sure this season will offer them the perfect opportunity to race in a world-class series, in a safe and secure environment. I wish them all well, and look forward to watching the races in February.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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