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Asian Le Mans Series

Shanghai Weekend Notebook

Sportscar365’s notebook from the Four Hours of Shanghai…

Photo: MPS Agency

***The 27-car entry list for this weekend’s Asian Le Mans Series season opener includes eight cars in LMP2, ten in LMP3, five in GT and four guest entries from Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. All expected cars except the Team Virage LMP3 Ligier are present.

***Jackie Chan DC Racing X Jota has one Oreca 05 Nissan listed, although it’s understood the defending LMP2 and LMP3 champion could run a second LMP2 car at some point later this season.

***Harrison Newey is the only member of JCDC Racing X Jota’s title-winning LMP2 team that has stayed to defend his 2017-18 drivers’ crown. Newey is now with Algarve Pro Racing, the team he raced for in Europe this year, as part of its two-car Ligier entry.

***Most teams took part in a pre-season test on Thursday to dial in for the championship’s first visit to the recently renamed SAIC International Circuit in Shanghai.

***The 2018-19 schedule features four races, with one round taking place each month between November and February. Fuji hosts round two on Dec. 9, round three is at Chang International Circuit hosts on Jan. 12, while Sepang hosts the finale on Feb. 24.

***Tianshi Racing Team rebuilt its No. 66 Audi R8 LMS GT3 on Thursday night after an engine failure during the private test session. It didn’t take part in Friday’s Free Practice 1 and could be replaced by a Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the rest of the weekend.

***Rob Huff, who is part of the No. 66 lineup, is set to split duties between TSRT and his China Touring Car Championship entry, with the tin-top series sharing the event with Asian LMS. The CTCC field also  includes GT3 regular Alex Fontana and former Super GT300 champion Andre Couto.

***Pipo Derani led Friday’s opening free practice session. The Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 Hours winner posted a time of 1:56.582 in the Ligier JS P2 Nissan entered by Spirit of Race, going 1.3 seconds quicker than Andrea Pizzitola in the Judd-powered Algarve Pro Racing Ligier. Phil Hanson ran third in the No. 22 United Autosports Ligier, ahead of the Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier driven by Matthieu Lahaye.

***Nigel Moore topped the LMP3 times in FP1 with a 2:00.926 behind the wheel of the Viper Niza Racing Ligier JS P3 Nissan, while reigning FIA GT World Endurance champion Alessandro Pier Guidi paced the GT class with a 2:04.234 in the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3.

***A total of six drivers have stayed in Shanghai after competing in the six-hour FIA World Endurance Championship race held last weekend. AF Corse Ferrari co-drivers Pier Guidi and James Calado, the entire JCDC Racing X Jota LMP2 crew of Nabil Jeffri, Weiron Tan and Jazeman Jaafar, and LMP2 debutant Salih Yoluc all took part in the rain-affected WEC event.

***Others to have remained in Shanghai since last weekend include Hugo de Sadeleer, who was spotted roaming the WEC paddock, and the four teams taking part in this weekend’s one-off Porsche Endurance Trophy for Carrera Cup Asia teams following their season finale.

***Yoluc, Chris Buncombe and Alexander West will head straight from Shanghai to Bahrain for next weekend’s inaugural FIA GT Nations Cup, where they will represent the UK, Turkey and Sweden respectively.

***Yoluc and West are two of six drivers making their LMP2 debuts this weekend. Patrick Byrne, Darren Burke, Jean-Baptiste Lahaye and Francois Heriau are also racing in the class for the first time.

***On the other end of the spectrum, Shanghai marks U.S racer Chris McMurry’s first LMP2 appearance since 2005, when he raced for Miracle Motorsports in the American Le Mans Series. His most recent prototype experience, however, came in 2013 at the wheel of Dyson Racing’s Lola B12/60 Mazda.

***Qualifying for the Four Hours of Shanghai takes place on Saturday at 3:50 p.m local time (2:50 a.m ET). The race itself is scheduled to start on Sunday at 1 p.m (12 a.m ET).

***This season, all qualifying sessions and races will be broadcasted live on the Asian LMS YouTube and Facebook pages, while MotorTrend and will carry live online coverage. Live timing for all sessions can be found here.

Laurent Mercier and Jake Kilshaw contributed to this report.

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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