The Asian Le Mans Series could soon allow both new and old generation LMP2 cars on the same grid, according to series managing director Cyrille Taesch Wahlen.
Asia is the only ACO-sanctioned region that still allows the previous-gen LMP2 cars that were phased out of other competitions at the end of 2016.
The new-gen cars, which use a spec Gibson V8 engine, were introduced the following year and feature widely in the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
With the introduction of new-spec cars set for next season, Taesch Wahlen said they’re looking at ways of accommodating both types of machinery to address demand and continue a steady growth in entries.
This season, the series introduced a split LMP2 category with a top class for Pro-Am crews and a new Am Trophy for ‘gentleman’ driver lineups.
“We said that in the 2019-20 season we would introduce the new-generation cars,” Taesch Wahlen told Sportscar365.
“The only thing we haven’t really decided yet is to know whether we introduce the new cars and get rid of the old ones or to introduce the new cars and keep the old ones for the Am Trophy.
“If we want to grow LMP2 in Asian Le Mans, at some point you have to make a decision like this.”
A move to the 2017-spec car is necessary because the existing field of old-generation LMP2 cars is nearly at capacity.
Taesch Wahlen said there is “not much available now immediately” beyond the eight-car current grid, with an additional Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 05 poised to operate on a race-by-race basis.
Plans were also afoot for the pair of BR Engineering BR01s to race in Asia this season, but the cars have not been entered after initial discussions with European teams.
Taesch Wahlen added that most teams would like to have the option of running the new-generation car in Asia, and that many Asian LMS squads such as United Autosports and Jackie Chan DC Racing already own examples of the newer chassis.
“The tendency is, yes, all of the teams would like to see the new-gen car eligible and keep the old one for the Am Trophy,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean this is going to happen, because that doesn’t mean they will do that or their customers decide to do it.
“This is where we have to read between lines and make the proper decision.”
New-Gen Cars Not a Simple Addition
Taesch Wahlen also said the series needs to manage several new financial and logistical factors to enable the introduction of the new-gen LMP2 cars.
“It’s not only a question of what they would like to do in the best-case scenario,” he said.
“Do [teams] have customers with the budget for a new-gen car to compete in Asian LMS? Maybe they will have customers for LMP3 and GT instead.
“Then, you have the logistics question. If we introduce the new-gen car, they have to air freight after [the 4 Hours of] Portimao [in October] the very same chassis to compete in Asian Le Mans [for November].
“Then it must be brought back to Europe in time for maintenance, testing, renewing drivers and then the Prologue for ELMS.
“You have to take all this into account, and the time it takes to ship the containers back or air freight. It’s not only a question of knowing if teams are keen on having the new-gen car eligible in Asian Le Mans. It’s the combination of all these factors.”