Walkenhorst Motorsport has won the Asian Le Mans Series GT championship with their #34 M4 GT3 driven by Chandler Hull, Nicky Catsburg, and Thomas Merrill. The championship was clinched after winning the first two rounds of the four-race championship in Dubai, followed by strong fourth and second-place finishes at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Despite going into the final two rounds with a commanding lead in the championship, the final two rounds were not without drama. The pole-sitting Haupt Racing Mercedes-AMG, which was the Walkenhorst teams primary rival, won the first round, with the BMW finishing in fourth after qualifying in second.
In the second and final race, the Haupt Racing Mercedes-AMG once again was in the lead through much of the race, with the Walkenhorst BMW moving into second in the closing stages. The Mercedes pitted for a splash of fuel with less than ten minutes remaining in the race. This put the BMW in the lead, but Nicky Catsburg then brought the BMW in for a quick fuel stop, which put the Mercedes back in the lead. They finished that way, and the second-place finish by the BMW was more than enough to secure the series championship.
You may be wondering why the Asian Le Mans Series holds its races in the Middle East. The series originally raced in Southeast Asian countries before moving to the United Arab Emirates for a more condensed schedule due to COVID restrictions that made it too difficult logistically to race in Asia. It has kept this format for three years now, and plans to return to Southeast Asia for races “as soon as feasibly possible.”
With the championship win, the Walkenhorst team was awarded with an automatic entry into the GTE-Am class for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, though its uncertain at this time if Walkenhorst actually plans to race at Le Mans.
In other Walkenhorst Motorsport news, the German BMW team announced that they contest the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe championship with a pair of M4 GT3s, with one competing in the Silver class of the Sprint and Endurance Cup rounds, and a second car competing in the Pro-Am class of the Endurance rounds. Drivers are yet to be announced. —David Haueter
[Photos by BMW]