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Fillon: Middle East to Remain on Asian Calendar in Future

ACO President Pierre Fillon on continued Middle East presence for Asian Le Mans Series…

The Middle East will remain on the Asian Le Mans Series calendar for the foreseeable future despite a return to southeast Asia according to ACO President Pierre Fillon, who has targeted the return of Asian teams for the 2023-2024 season and beyond.

Announced earlier this month at Le Mans, next season’s schedule will kick off with a doubleheader at Sepang International Circuit in early December, before closing out in the United Arab Emirates, with a single four-hour race at Dubai International Autodrome and two races at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

It marks the first time the series, now under the joint promotion of SRO and the ACO’s LMEM organization, will run in southeast Asia since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are very happy because we were very sad [not to be in Southeast Asia],” Fillon told reporters. “OK, the championship in the Middle East was very strong.

“But of course the Asian Le Mans Series needs to have some races in [southeast] Asia. We’ve very happy to come back to Asia.

“For the next calendar we will have one place in Asia, in Malaysia, but the plan is to come back to a normal calendar with Middle East and Asia.

“We will continue to combine Middle East and Asia, but more races in Asia.”

Fillon said “it’s too early” to predict what country could return to the schedule in 2024-2025, following suggestions that China could be in the frame for an event in the years to come.

He instead stressed the importance of attracting Asian-based teams back to the series, in what has largely been a winter version of the European Le Mans Series over the last two seasons.

“This is a big success but most of the competitors are from Europe and we want to come back to a real Asian championship,” Fillon said.

“We want to attract some teams from China, Japan, Malaysia and so on. We want to come back to what was our target when we created the Asian Le Mans Series.”

Teams Eligible to Enter on Race-by-Race Basis

LMEM CEO Frederic Lequien confirmed that teams will be able to enter the 2023-24 season on a race-by-race basis, marking a change from previous seasons.

However, they won’t be eligible to earn the automatic entries for the 24 Hours of Le Mans if it is not a full season entry.

He also explained the reasoning for opting with Sepang to start the season rather than a round in the Middle East, or Burriam, which is understood to have also been under consideration.

“We had to manage the logistics,” Lequien said. “We want to keep the season in the Middle East next season. The idea was to find a good place at the beginning of December.

“We had two different options and Sepang was the best one.”

Source : Sportcar 365