The sixth season of the Audi R8 LMS Cup — the brands only single-model factory-backed series — was an exciting display of motorsport aided by changes to the format.
New to the season are separate qualifying sessions for each race and ‘Push-to-Pass’ — the latter a feature for the driver to unlock an extra 50 horsepower for which an exterior LED counter displays the number of uses remaining.
A Round 1 incident saw Malaysian Alex Yoong jump a curb and spin out, decimating any podium chances. The 40-year old however bounced back in Round 2, jumping from P2 on the grid to leading the pack for an uninterrupted victory. Last season’s second place finisher and Yoong’s closest rival, Alessio Picariello from team MGT by Absolute, was running a 50kg ballast going into Round 2 having won Round 1 but managed to stay on Yoong’s tail for the second spot on the podium.
Despite the presence of the heaviest ballast in the race, Picariello managed to set the fastest lap of Round 2 and picking up an award from new R8 LMS Cup tyre partner Pirelli. Bringing up 3rd in Round 2 was Malaysian-born Australian Mitch Gilbert, 22, who stands on the podium in only his second race.
Further back on the grid, Audi TEDA Racing Team’s Shaun Thong, 21, finished Round 2 in 7th despite a third place finish in Round 1 — possibly due to the inexperience of dealing with 20kg of ballast as he contests his first full Cup season. Cheng Congfu of FAW-VW Audi Racing
The result of the weekend as far as the championship standings go sees Picariello at the top of the table with 45 points, including those picked up for starting on pole, with Yoong in second at 31 points.
“I’m thrilled to have taken the win. Lots of friends and family came out, so it’s very special and nice to repay their support. I struggled a little bit yesterday but the car was better today. I knew I had to get Alessio off the start because I knew he’d be very fast, even with 50kg. So once I’d done that, I just tried to settle down and get into a rhythm, which was also a little tricky and took me a little longer than usual. I think we still have to understand how to the most out of the new tyres,” Yoong said after his Round 2 win. Young of course returns to the series after three consecutive overall championships.
Also present at Sepang for the race weekend was new Audi Sport CEO Stephan Winkelmann, former chief of Automobili Lamborghini.
The next track setting for the Audi R8 LMS Cup will be at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan for Rounds 3 and 4 from June 10-11, a debut for the series at the home of the Japanese Grand Prix and also for Formula One driver Will Stevens. Live streams are available at www.audir8lmscup.com (English) and www.audir8lmscup.com/cn (Chinese).
Round 2 – Results
1. 1/Alex YOONG(MAS)/Audi R8 LMS Cup/26:53.686 (13 laps)
2. 15/Alessio PICARIELLO(BEL)/MGT by Absolute/+1.275
3. 86/Mitch GILBERT(MAS)/OD Racing Team/+4.989
4. 31/CHENG Congfu (CHN)/FAW-VW Audi Racing Team/+7.170
5. 18/Martin RUMP(EST)/Champion Racing Team/+8.303
6. 88/Marchy LEE(HKG)/Audi Hong Kong/+10.851
7. 8/Shaun THONG Wei Fung(HKG)/Audi TEDA Racing Team/+14.664
8. 11/Stéphane RICHELMI(MCO)/G/Castrol Racing Team/+15.258
9. 29/Akash NANDY(MAS)/KCMG/+21.436
10. 7/Jeffrey LEE(TWN)/Am+/Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan/+34.645
11. 13/Kyong-Ouk YOU(KOR)/Team Audi Korea/+50.215
DNF. 77/Rick YOON(HKG)/Am/KCMG
Fastest Lap: Alessio PICARIELLO/2:02.826/lap 2
Overall classification after Round 2 – Top 10
1. Alessio PICARIELLO – 45
2. Alex YOONG – 31
3. Martin RUMP – 28
4. CHENG Congfu – 24
5. Shaun THONG Wei Fung – 21
6. Marchy LEE – 18
7. Mitch GILBERT – 15
8. Akash NANDY – 12
9. Kyong-Ouk YOU – 5
10. Rick YOON – 2
Am+ Cup classification
1. Jeffrey LEE – 27
Am Cup classification
1. Rick YOON – 27
Team classification after Round 2 – Top 10
1. MGT by Absolute – 45
2. Audi R8 LMS Cup – 31
3. Champion Racing Team – 28
4. FAW-VW Audi Racing Team – 24
5. Audi TEDA Racing Team – 21
6. Audi Hong Kong Team – 18
7. OD Racing Team – 15
8. KCMG – 12
9. Team Audi Korea – 5
10. Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan – 2