The Asian Le Mans Series has chosen to compress their 2020/21 schedule.
It won’t be on the number of races, but the number of tracks, and the duration from Round 1 to Round 4.
The original plan was to start at Suzuka in Japan, followed by Shanghai, but the organizers had chosen to cancel those two events.
The season will instead start on Saturday 9 January 2021 at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, which was their original date for the event. The big change will however be, that another race will be run two days later – at the same venue.
The teams will have 12 days of preparation, before they will race again at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, in another double round. Those races will be Saturday and Tuesday respectively.
The changes are of course due to the COVID-19 situation, which potentially could make it difficult to travel in or out of certain countries. Nobody knows how things will look in January, but by limiting the season to just two circuits/countries, the first benefit is less travel costs, and the second thing is less risk of having troubles travelling in or out of a country for the teams.
The Asian Le Mans Series is an important championship for the ACO, to get into the Asian market regarding sportscar racing. It is already paying off, with the championship winners getting a ticket for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the majority of those teams choosing to pick up that entry. The series has run with the older spec LMP2 cars from prior to 2017, but the 2019/20 season saw the latest generation introduced. The older cars have now been faced out of the championship, with just the newer spec going forward in both LMP2 and LMP2 Am, while the LMP3 category will run the latest 2020 versions. The GT3 category will remain unchanged.
There would be a theoretical 10 Le Mans tickets to run for, all depending on the entries in the categories. The most likely is however just a single entry from each category, since it takes 12 or more LMP2 cars, to release another entry, and 8 or more GT3 cars, to release another entry for them. It would however be fantastic, if the series got into that situation. LMP3 is locked at a single entry no matter how many competitors.
The revised schedule looks like this:
Race 1: Buriram Chang International Circuit, Thailand
9 January 2021 (Children’s Day)
Race 2: Buriram Chang International Circuit, Thailand
11 January 2021
Race 3: Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
23 January 2021
Race 4: Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
26 January 2021