Aston Martin is the first manufacturer to commit to the new-for-2013 Asian Le Mans Series with the announcement of a partnership deal with a Far Eastern team.
Craft Racing AMR, which is run by former British Formula 3 Championship racer Mark Goddard, will run Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3s in the six-race championship next year with support from the factory. It has firm plans to run two cars in the GTC class of the series and could run as many as four.
World Touring Car Championship and GT driver Darryl O'Young, who is also the team's marketing director, will lead the line-up in one car. Team owner Frank Yu will drive the other car.
Goddard, whose team has bases at Zhuhai in China and Sepang in Malaysia, said: "We have two cars confirmed and are working on a third and a fourth. The plan is to have the strongest driver possible with Darryl so that we can win the class and gain the guaranteed entry for next year's Le Mans 24 Hours [which is expected to be awarded to the winner of the GTC category]."
Goddard, who has been involved in the Far Eastern racing scene for nearly 20 years, believes the Asian series will be a success.
"GT racing is developing slowly but surely in Asia," he said. "There are enough drivers out here already driving these cars who have the interest in going to the next step. I know of at least one other manufacturer that is going to announce plans for the Asian series soon and a couple of privateer teams as well."
The Asian Le Mans Series was officially launched on Saturday at the Shanghai World Endurance Championship finale. The six-race calendar was confirmed with three races in China and one each in Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.
Series boss Mark Thomas has revealed that he is aiming for a grid of more than 20 cars. The series is open to LMP2, LMPC and GTE machinery, as well as a GTC category that will incorporate GT3, GT300 cars from the Super GT Series in Japan and one-make cup cars.