6 Hours of Buriram – preview
A longer race, new team and new drivers add to an already exciting event
The third round of the 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series will be held on Children’s Day in Thailand and the venue will be open to everyone as a part of the celebrations.
Children’s Day has been celebrated in Thailand on the second Saturday of January every year since 1955 and is designed to celebrate the role children play in the development of the Country. It is a day for fun and adventure – and the Asian Le Mans Series will offer them and their families exactly that!
Run at the Chang International Circuit, the race will this year be extended to become the 6 Hours of Buriram, meaning this round of the Asian Le Mans Series will finish just after the sun sets. This will also add to the unique nature of this multiclass endurance race.
Round 3 of the Series will see the return of Team NZ to the Asian Le Mans Series. Behind the wheel of their #77 Porsche 997 GT3 will be regular drivers Graeme Dowsett (New Zealand) and John Curran (Ireland), and joining them for this round will be talented young Kiwi, Will Bamber. Will finished third in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia in his full season in 2017, claiming race wins including a double victory at the Bangsaen Grand Prix round. He also finished runner up in China GT driving a Lamborghini Huracán. Will is the brother of two time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, World Endurance Champion, and previous PCCA Champion, Earl.
Team NZ’s return to the main Series follows on from their excellent form in last year’s Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup. There, the team claimed the GT Cup Class title for the second consecutive year.
In the LMP2 Class, the #7 Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport Oreca 05 Nissan will have a very different look for the remaining two rounds as it will run an all-Malaysian line up. With the support of the Sepang International Circuit, the new driver line-up will be Jazeman Jaafar, who made his debut with the team in the previous round, Weiron Tan and Afiq Ikhwan Yazid.
The Sepang International Circuit's initiative to develop motorsport talent stems from the desire to have a team with an all-Malaysian line-up participating in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans as early as 2019. They view the Asian Le Mans Series as an important step in the development of the drivers, before they make the step up to the global stage.
“I see this as a stepping stone in reaching our ambition of racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The prestigious race is seen as the oldest and most iconic endurance race, and it is a dream for all drivers to qualify and participate in this race.
“This is crucial as we need to accelerate the learning curve of our drivers to be better prepared for the challenges in the tough Le Mans 24 Hours race,” said Sepang International Circuit Chief Executive Officer Dato' Razlan Razali.
ARC Bratislava’s #4 Ligier JSP2 will also feature a new driver for this round with Gustavo Yacaman joining Miro Konopka and Konstantins Calko in Buriram. After a podium finish in round two, the team heads into round 3 with renewed confidence and the hope of continuing their strong form.
Gustavo Yacaman is a highly experienced racer, having finished third in World Endurance Championship (LMP2 trophy for drivers) in 2015 while driving for G-Drive. In 2017 he was also a race winner in the LMP2 class in the European Le Mans Series with Graff Racing, finishing 5th in the drivers classification. He will come to Thailand directly from Daytona and the Roar Before the 24 where he was driving the AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Kiegier JSP217-Gibson.
In the LMP3 class the battle for the Championship title was blown wide open after the 4 Hours of Fuji. KCMG claimed the win in the opening round in Zhuhai, but they battled with reliability in Fuji and it was the Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport #6 Ligier JSP3 that took victory. They did so after withstanding several challenges throughout the race from Taiwan Beer GH Motorsprot and Viper Niza Racing. WIN Motorsport was another of the LMP3 competitors to hit reliability issues so expect to see them bounce back in Buriram.
The quality of the field in the LMP3 Class means that you should expect to see yet another great fight for the class win. With just two rounds remaining, the results this weekend will be very important.
In the GT class there is a driver change for Audi Sport customer racing Asia by TSRT, with Alex Au driving in place of Liu Peng. Alex has previously raced in the 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series in Round 1, racing with Eurasia Motorsport. After a very strong start in the 4 Hours of Fuji that saw them rapidly climb up the order, TRST will be hoping for strong performance this weekend.
For the last two rounds, it has been the FIST Team AAI GT3 entries that have led the way with their Ferrari 488 GT3 and BMW M6 GT3. Piloting these two impressive cars are a group of very talented and successful international drivers including factory backed drivers. Their line up for this round will remain unchanged and includes Marco Cioci, Chaz Mostert, Jesse Krohn and Ollie Millroy. They will supported by Asian drivers Lam Yu and Junsan Chen.
World class broadcast
Coverage of the 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series will reach all corners of the globe, the races will be broadcast live on Motorsport.TV
6 Hours of Buriram Schedule
09:10 – 10:40 Free Practice 1
12:50 – 14:20 Free Practice 2
16:30 – 16:45 Qualifying LMP2 and LMP3
16:55 – 17:10 Qualifying GT and GT Cup
08:45 – 09:30 Pit walk / Autograph session
12:00 – 18:00 6 Hours of Buriram
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Mercedes' Formula 1 chief strategist James Vowles will take part in next month's Asian Le Mans Series, driving a McLaren 720S GT3 for Garage 59.
New Porsche driver Yifei Ye will make his debut with the German manufacturer in next month's Asian Le Mans Series ahead of a return to the LMP2 ranks.
Lamborghini Super Trofeo world champion Victor Gomez IV will race in next month’s Asian Le Mans Series in AF Corse’s GT Am-class Ferrari, teaming up with factory driver Alessandro Pier Guidi and Francesco Piovanetti.