> New agreement ensures successful continuation of continental championship
> 24 Hours of Le Mans invitation extended to winner of combined Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS and Asian Le Mans Series classification
> Second invite allocated to Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS
SRO Motorsports Group has confirmed exciting plans to work with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and Asian Le Mans Endurance Management (ALMEM) to jointly oversee the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series.
The new agreement will ensure the successful continuation of the multi-class championship, which caters for mixed grids of LMP2, LMP3 and GT3 machinery, while safeguarding the long-term health of sports car racing in Asia. SRO can draw upon extensive experience in the region as the organiser of Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS, as well as a variety of other events stretching back more than 25 years.
The collaboration will also see two 24 Hours of Le Mans invitations awarded for the race's 2024 edition. The first will be allocated to Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS, with an invite extended to the champion of either the Pro-Am or Gold Cup class, while the second will be given to the winner of a combined Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS and Asian Le Mans Series classification. Further details regarding both will be confirmed in due course.
Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS is set to return in 2022 following two years in which Covid-19 restrictions have prevented on-track activity. The series plans to stage a minimum five-round season that could ultimately increase to six events, with the opener currently scheduled for 15-17 July at Suzuka.
Pierre Fillon, ACO President: “This joint collaboration is the best way to ensure the success and the development of the Asian Le Mans Series, the expertise of the three companies will be beneficial for the competitors. Alongside the ACO, Stéphane played an important role in the creation of the European Le Mans Series and we share a lot of the same values when it comes to the vision of our sport.”
Frédéric Lequien, ALMEM and LMEM CEO: “We are very excited to work with Stéphane and the SRO Motorsports Group team to ensure the continued success of the Asian Le Mans Series. We have great respect for everything that Stéphane and his team have done across GT racing, and we strongly believe that a joint collaboration between our companies can be hugely beneficial for everyone.”
Stéphane Ratel, SRO Motorsports Group founder & CEO: "It is my great pleasure to work alongside the ACO and ALMEM on the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series. This collaboration owes a great deal of thanks to Benjamin Franassovici, Paul Yao and their SRO Motorsports Asia team, who in just a few years have made Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS one of the most important series in the region. Strengthened by its new association with the Asian Le Mans Series, I am certain that more success will follow. I would also like to thank the ACO and ALMEM for awarding a 24 Hours of Le Mans invitation to Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS. This illustrates the determination of our organisations to work together for the worldwide success of the GT category. I see this venture as the start of a very exciting period for our sport and SRO is delighted to be playing its part."
Asian Le Mans Series: Endurance Racing for Asia
Created by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), the Asian Le Mans Series symbolises the Spirit of Le Mans, holding the same shared passion for creating world class endurance racing in Asia.
The Asian Le Mans Series is the reference endurance racing series in Asia. Delivering highly competitive racing on world class racetracks, last season the Series was watched by a global audience of just under 7 million. The Asian Le Mans Series is growing year on year and is attracting some of the world’s most successful endurance racing teams, as well as fostering new and emerging talent from the region.
Offering the region’s only direct pathway to the world’s most prestigious endurance race – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Series is also the perfect training ground for those wanting to step up the ACO ladder.
The Asian Le Mans Series is a four round Championship featuring races of four hours in length. Eligible cars include LMP2, LMP3, and GT3
Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS is the continent's biggest multi-class GT series.
It also comprises a quarter of SRO Motorsports Group’s worldwide GT3 sprint racing platform where the performances of manufacturers and drivers contribute towards a global championship as well as domestic titles.
However, Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS is also one of a select few multi-class championships to mix GT3 and GT4 cars, with the latter’s teams and drivers fighting for their own class wins and titles.
This format helped the championship to quickly establish itself as the continent’s most popular GT series, which attracted an average of 30+ cars per race in 2017-19. Similar numbers are expected to compete in 2022.
Cars feature a maximum of two drivers, each of whom qualifies for and then starts one of the weekend’s two races. They must then swap places with their co-driver during the mandatory pitstop window, which lasts 10 minutes.
Two types of driver pairings compete for outright victories: the mix of a professional and amateur (Pro/Am) and two professionals graded no higher than Silver by the FIA (Silver Cup). The latter is subject to performance adjustments and approval by SRO to ensure that both Pro/Am and Silver Cup crews are capable of winning races. The Am Cup, which comprises two Bronze-graded drivers per car, completes the GT3 class structure.
The GT4 class is reserved for Am Cup and Silver/Am pairings.
At least one Asian driver per crew is mandatory in most classes, while events feature a dedicated test session for amateur drivers.