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Asian Le Mans Series

GPX Set to Forgo 24H Dubai Defense, Asian LMS Next Year

24H Dubai winner GPX won’t return to race next year; team continuing with Porsche in GT3…

Photo: Jules Benichou/SRO

GPX Racing is set to forgo the 24 Hours of Dubai and the Asian Le Mans Series next year while its options remain open for its 2022 GT3 program in Europe, according to team principal Pierre-Brice Mena.

The Dubai-flagged outfit, which runs its GT3 operations from France, is the defending Dubai winner and also finished second in this year’s UAE-based Asian LMS season to secure an automatic invitation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which it ultimately declined.

One of the reasons for missing its ‘home’ races in early 2022, according to Mena, is that the Dubai-based GP Extreme organization under which GPX Racing exists will be concentrating on the launch of new business ventures during the European winter.

GP Extrerme’s historic racing department is staging the first Historic Dubai Grand Prix Revival meeting in December, while it is also opening a store at Dubai Autodrome that will sell motorsport memorabilia including race-worn Formula 1 gear from next month.

Sporting factors are also playing a role in GPX Racing’s decision to reduce its winter racing program.

“At the moment I’m not sure, but I don’t think we will do Dubai 24 Hours because we have some other businesses and we are organizing a race on December 2-3 which is taking us a lot of time and energy,” Mena told Sportscar365.

“We need to focus on it because it’s our first time organizing the Gulf Historic. It’s taking a lot of time from all the people.

“That’s why, at the moment, we don’t think we’re going to do Dubai because it’s the beginning of January. You need to prepare if you want to do it properly and we prefer to focus on some [other] things.

“We won it this year, so we ticked a box. It’s not like we’re running after it. We want to have big results, but Dubai is done. It’s in the book.

“We’re going to be busy because we have several entities in GP Extreme. This winter we are going to be especially busy.”

Mena added that an Asian LMS return doesn’t factor into the team’s plans next year due to a lack of interest in pushing for a 2022 Le Mans invitation, as well as no desire to race in a GT category with Pro-Am driver rules.

Additionally, while GPX is a Dubai-based entity, the European location of its GT3 program means that any Gulf region races are essentially flyaway events.

“We are not considering to do Asian Le Mans either,” Mena confirmed.

“There is not much sense for us to do it because we don’t want to go to Le Mans in GTE next year anyway.

“Also, if we want to prepare for Le Mans, we prefer to focus a little bit more on 2023. I guess we’re going to be busier in 2023 with the new car and to prepare for Le Mans.

“I’m personally not a very big fan of Pro-Am championships. On the sporting side, a lot of things are based on your Am.

“It’s not so much about the performance of the team, but more the performance of the Bronze driver.”

GPX will continue with Porsche next year, while it is expected to renew its technical partnership with ART Grand Prix. Mena wants the collaboration with the experienced single-seater outfit to continue as his team builds toward a Le Mans attempt in 2024.

“Next year we are going to race still with the Porsche,” he said.

“At the end of 2022, the new Porsche [GT3] will be coming. This is going to be a big thing for us because we want to go to Le Mans in 2024 with the new car, and I guess 2023 will be a big year of preparation for that.”

GPX has not yet defined which series it will enter next year, with the final decision hinging on where Porsche’s focus lies. Mena expects “everything to be finalized” by the end of this month.

“For sure we’re looking a little bit at everything,” he said.

“I’m looking at what’s happening in the GT3 world with DTM etc. I also need to speak with Porsche about what they want to achieve and what they’re going to bring for which series.

“In the last years they were involved a lot in GTWC Endurance Cup and that’s why we took this direction. The discussions are still finalizing with Porsche, but it will probably be GTWC Endurance.

“Last year they didn’t have too much interest for DTM or [GTWC Europe] Sprint, and that’s why we’re only here.”

ART Partnership Getting “Better and Better”

Mena explained that GPX Racing’s technical support from ART Grand Prix got “better and better” every time they raced in the 2021 GTWC Europe Endurance Cup season, after the agreement between the two parties came together at relatively late notice.

Shortly after Asian LMS finished, GPX Racing went through an organizational shift that saw ART replace Monlau Competicion as its technical partner.

Matt Campbell, Earl Bamber and Mathieu Jaminet won the second Endurance Cup round of the year at Paul Ricard but ultimately encountered too many retirements – including at the 24 Hours of Spa due to a steering issue – in order to fight for the title.

GPX won Spa at the first attempt in 2019 while its leading Porsche crew finished second in last year’s Endurance Cup standings, on the team’s full-season series debut.

“For sure it wasn’t an easy task to change the whole organization of the team like this,” reflected Mena.

“We had some hard times at Monza. It was quite a difficult race. But we showed everybody that we bounced back directly at Paul Ricard and the performance was there.

“Every time we go out it’s been better and better. The idea is still to prepare for Le Mans and have something very strong for 2024. There is still some way to go, but it’s going well.”

When asked about what the early teething issues were, Mena said: “It was a little bit of everything.

“It’s not easy to run a GT3 team nowadays. It’s a big thing with a lot of processes.

“We decided to make this change after [Asian] LMS, so it was quite late, and all of the tools and materials were overseas. I think ART received everything in mid-March and Monza was mid-April.

“So it makes sense that everything wasn’t perfect. You need to practice and know each other: everything was new for everybody.

“We had been talking since a long time, but it was the first time we were on a race weekend together. You need a bit of oil to turn.”

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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