24 Hours of Le Mans and the Asian Le Mans series: 10 curious connections

24 Hours of Le Mans and the Asian Le Mans series: 10 curious connections

Last week, to mark the Chinese round of the World Endurance Championship, we looked at some of the stories linking China, Asia and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Now, with the opening round of the 2018-19 World Endurance Championship imminent (Shanghai, Sunday 25 November), we unearth some fascinating facts about the drivers and teams that have competed in the series since 2013.

-Five drivers who have won in Asian Le Mans Series have also triumphed in the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans: Brit Richard Bradley (2015), Monaco’s Stéphane Richelmi (2016), American Gustavo Menezes (2016), Frenchman Thomas Laurent (2017) and Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung (2017).

-Richard Bradley, Stéphane Richelmi and Thomas Laurent won the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans respectively in 2015 (with KCMG), 2016 (with Signatech Alpine) and 2017 (with Jackie Chan DC Racing).

-In 2016, Gustavo Menezes was teammates wtih Stéphane Richelmi – and Nicolas Lapierre – at the wheel of the Alpine A460-Nissan that topped the LMP2 class at Le Mans. In 2017, Thomas Laurent shared the cockpit of the #38 ORECA 07-Gibson at Le Mans with Ho-Pin Tung and Brit Oliver Jarvis.

-Chinese outfit Jackie Chan DC Racing linked up with Britain’s Jota Sport to triumph in LMP2 in the 2017-2018 Asian Le Mans Series and the pairing can also boast a fine track record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2014, Jota Sport took the class win at Le Mans in its own right, fielding a Zytek Z11SN-Nissan driven by Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Oliver Turvey. Three years later, Jackie Chan DC Racing bagged a splendid 1-2 finish in the LMP2 class, and finished second and third overall with its two ORECA 07-Gibsons operated by Jota Sport.

-Harrison Newey took the drivers’ title in LMP2 in the 2017-18 Asian Le Mans Series with Jackie Chan DC Racing and made his first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018. He was teamed with Frenchman Norman Nato and Russian Viktor Shaytar in a Dallara P217 for SMP Racing (10th in LMP2, 14th overall). His father, Adrian Newey is a highly respected Formula One technical director (Williams, McLaren and Red Bull Racing) and drove a Ferrari F430 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2007. He finished 22nd.

-In 2013, French team OAK Racing scored a dazzling hattrick, winning the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the World Endurance Championship and in the Asian Le Mans Series.

-Portuguese outfit Algarve Pro Racing took the title in the 2016-2017 season and has competed in the LMP2 class in the European Le Mans Series and at Le Mans for the past three years. Sir Chris Hoy drove for the team at Le Mans in 2016. The former world champion and Olympic track cycling champion from Scotland is Great Britain’s most successful Olympian with six gold medals to his name. He finished 12th in LMP2 (17th overall) with teammates Michael Munemann (GB) and Andrea Pizzitola (France). 

-At the Fuji round in 2014, Japanese driver Keiko Ihara (three 24 Hours of Le Mans starts) became the first – and so far the only – woman to win an Asian Le Mans Series round. She drove a Morgan-Nissan LMP2 for OAK Racing Total.

-In 2017, Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Kamui Kobayashi broke the record for the fastest lap ever recorded at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He can also boast a GTE class win, having triumphed in a Ferrari at the opening round of the 2013 Asian Le Mans Series at Inje (South Korea).

-Two Asian Le Mans Series winners have also triumphed in the LMGTE classes at Le Mans: Finland’s Toni Vilander (LMGTE Pro in 2012 and 2014) and Italian Andrea Bertolini (LMGTE Am in 2015), both also with Ferrari.

Photo - In addition to its LMP2 victory at the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans, Jackie Chan DC Racing is holder of the LMP2 and LMP3 titles in the Asian Le Mans Series. The Chinese outfit also currently leads the FIA LMP2 Trophy standings in the World Endurance Championship, after Gabriel Aubry, Stéphane Richelmi and Ho-Pin Tung (seen here at Le Mans) took the win at the 6 Hours of Shanghai last Sunday.