As a member on the executive board of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, Frederic Henry-Biabaud is very active on the Asian continent to develop the Asian Le Mans Series. (En Français)
The Le Mans-badged championship, promoted by Mark Thomas, launched last year with modest results. While a 40-car grid was not expected in its first year, the groundwork was laid for endurance racing in Asia.
The second season of the Asian LMS will kick off this summer at the Inje Speedium in South Korea, with already a revised upward plateau.
“We need to organize the championship,” Henry-Biabaud said. “We started the championship last year, which was a good thing. The 2014 program is emerging gradually.
“We hope to have three to five LMP2 cars. It’s a bit more complicated because of the other GT programs. However, the introduction of the CN prototypes seems to be a success with five to seven cars expected for the beginning of the season.”
Henry-Biabaud predicts that a field of at least 20 cars is possible.
“For 2015, we will work on the organization of the calendar,” he said. “It has the advantage of having a link with Le Mans but it can prove to be a disadvantage logistically because of the time it takes to send cars to and from France.
“We need to think about making it logical for teams, mainly in GT. This year, the [addition of the CN] prototypes will help differentiate ourselves from other championships.
“We hope to start the season with 13 to 15 cars. We’ll have reinforcements at some of the meetings. We will start the season at Inje like last year.
“Regarding Japan, the date must change because we will no longer be [sharing the weekend] with Super GT. But one thing’s for certain, we want to race in Japan. The new date could be at the end of August.
“In Shanghai, we will run on the same weekend as WTCC, which is a very good thing from a media perspective.”
In addition to the arrival of the CN cars, there is also the combination of the GTE and GT3 cars into a single GT class.
“It was our desire to combine the two,” Henry-Biabaud said. “At present, it makes real sense. We must build the championship with humility. We have also decided to extend the CN class for three years.”
Henry-Biabaud said a large Chinese delegation will travel to Le Mans in June to soak up the atmosphere of the 24-hour endurance classic.
“We must establish ourselves in Asia,” he said. “There is real momentum for our partners. There has been much talk about OAK Racing Team Asia competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Michelin and TOTAL are very active in the development of the series via their Asian subsidiaries.”
Discussions, in fact, are currently underway for an expansion to new countries for 2015.
The entry list for this year’s championship is not fully known. OAK Racing has already announced plans to defend its LMP2 title with David Cheng, Ho-Pin Tung and a to-be-determined third driver.
KCMG plans to return, while Murphy Prototypes has revealed ambitions to expand to the Asian market. Another LMP2 effort has also been confirmed, with an announcement expected in the coming days.
It would also be logical to see OAK Racing in the CN class with its Ligier, with other teams having also expressed interest in the junior prototype ranks.
The GT class is a bit more unclear. Craft is expected to again be a part of the action with at least one Aston Martin. AF Corse and BBT are re-evaluating their programs, while AAI Motorsport has already confirmed the presence of a BMW Z4 GT3 for Ollie Millroy.