Absolute Racing has withdrawn its planned two-car entry into the Asian Le Mans Series due to travel restrictions and quarantines for its team members arriving from East Asia.
The prominent Asian GT3 team, which has bases in China, Malaysia and Thailand, was set to make its return to the championship during the 2021 season which is being held as four races in the United Arab Emirates next month.
Absolute issued a statement on Friday declaring that quarantine restrictions have prevented its Asian-based customers from competing in the series, while the team also wants to “protect its core business activities in China” by not sending a crew to the UAE.
It has also withdrawn from the Formula 3 Asian Championship which kicks off at Dubai Autodrome this weekend.
Absolute will now focus on series closer to home, including Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS which it has intentions of entering with at least seven cars.
It is set to announce its adjusted 2021 racing program in the “coming weeks”.
“As a team with loyal customers based in Asia, this difficult decision has been made in light of the tighter restrictions on international travel brought on by the increase of COVID-19 cases around the world,” said Absolute team director Ingo Matter.
“We will have a strong presence in the Chinese championships at the beginning of this year, and hopefully in Asia, once travel restrictions ease.
“We wish all the best to the competing teams and organizers, and look forward to join both F3 and Asian Le Mans Series next year when hopefully things will be back to normal.”
Matter told Sportscar365 last month of the difficulties that have faced Asian teams including Absolute since the start of the pandemic, particularly border restrictions.
Travel policies have already resulted in one change to the Asian LMS schedule, with the series bringing in Dubai as the season-opener to negate Abu Dhabi’s quarantine rules.
Additionally, the United Kingdom yesterday announced a ban on flights to and from the UAE, although indirect routes remain open.
Several British teams, drivers and other series personnel are involved in the Asian LMS.