Le Mans organizer the Automobile Club de l'Ouest has announced a six-round Asian Le Mans Series for 2013. The races will last three hours for the first year and then increase to four hours for 2014.
The series will follow a similar structure to the European Le Mans Series. The four classes will be LMP2, GTE, GT3-GTC and Formula Le Mans, and at least one Asian driver must be part of the driver lineup in each car. The winners of LMP2, FLM and GTE categories will get an invitation to the Le Mans 24 Hours, although the FLM team would have to field an LMP2 car.
The Zhuhai circuit in China will host the inaugural round before the championship moves to Shanghai, Ordos in Mongolia and one other destination, yet to be announced, in China before travelling to Fuji in Japan and a season finale at Sentul in Indonesia.
ACO president Pierre Fillon said that the club was aiming to infiltrate the world's expanding markets, and China in particular.
"We have to organize Le Mans-type endurance races in expanding markets, as this will enable manufacturers to showcase the reliability of their cars, enhance their image and demonstrate the soundness of their new technologies. This is obviously the case today in China and also in the whole of Asia."
Remy Brouard, ACO director of international development added "The ACO has always concentrated on long-term development, which is a telling argument in the Asian continent. The Automobile Club de l'Ouest's aim is not to visit this continent once or twice a year, but to build a solid base for the long term."