Asia’s leading motorsport stars will be joined by some of the world’s hottest young talent in the Audi R8 LMS Cup’s sixth season. The one-make sprint series is set to cut a swathe across the region with 10 rounds of action across five race weekends.
Series champion for the past three consecutive years, Alex Yoong, returns this year keeping up his record of competing in every Cup season thus far. The former Formula One driver will compete for Team Audi R8 LMS Cup in the coming season.
After a hugely impressive debut season, Alessio Picariello returns for another shot at the title he missed out on by a single point in 2016. The 23 year-old MGT Team by Absolute driver topped the championship on three occasions last season but missed out on the trophy after a dramatic season finale in Shanghai to finish second overall.
Martin Rump of Champion Racing Team was another standout youngster from the Cup’s 2016 season. His four race victories were the most of any driver and the 20 year-old Estonian will be looking to build on his third place overall finish in the season ahead.
Adding to the tussles between youth and experience that played out last season in the Cup will be Mitchell Gilbert, who joins for a debut season, and Shaun Thong, who will compete in his first full season.
Gilbert, who will race with OD Racing, finished third overall in last year’s Porsche Carrera Cup Asia after recording two victories in the series. The 22 year-old Australian showed his potential to adapt quickly to the Audi GT3 car by clocking some impressive lap times in the Audi R8 LMS Cup’s pre-season test event in January.
Shaun Thong, the Young Driver Development Programme participant for the Asian platform of Audi, will race a full Cup season for the first time with Audi TEDA Racing Team. As part of his development process the young Hong Kong native took part in the Audi Sport TT Cup in 2015 as well as being part of the first all-Asian team to enter the Nürburgring 24 Hours for the past two seasons, along with regular Audi R8 LMS Cup appearances.
Audi R8 LMS Cup champion in 2012, Marchy Lee, will return this season as part of Team Audi Hong Kong. The co-owner of Cup service provider, Phoenix Racing Asia, is another who has appeared in every season of the sprint series since its launch.
Race veteran Cheng Congfu will also return in the FAW-VW Audi Racing Team car for 2017. The Chinese star closed out a challenging 2016 on a high with a top 10 finish in the FIA GT World Cup in Macau and will be looking to rediscover the form that saw him finish as Audi R8 LMS Cup runner-up in 2015.
Korean star driver K.O. You returns for another season with the Cup as part of Team Audi Korea and will be looking to push on from his GT3 class victory alongside Alex Yoong and Marchy Lee in the finale of the Asian Le Mans Series earlier this year.
More driver announcements will be made shortly.
Launched alongside the Audi R8 LMS Cup in 2012, Audi Sport customer racing Asia builds on the global customer racing platform of Audi. In addition to the Audi R8 LMS Cup, in 2016, the programme supported entries into some of Asia’s and Europe’s leading motorsport series and events including the FIA GT World Cup at the Macau Grand Prix, the Sepang 12 Hours, GT Asia Series, and the Nürburgring 24 Hours. The Audi R8 LMS Cup’s sixth season will begin with Rounds 1 and 2 at the Sepang International Circuit on 6-7 May.
2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup calendar:
Official Test / May / Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
Rounds 1&2: May 6-7 / Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
Rounds 3&4: June 10-11 / Suzuka International Racing Course, Japan
Rounds 5&6: July 15-16 / Korea International Circuit, South Korea
Rounds 7&8: September 9-10 / Shanghai Audi International Circuit, China
Rounds 9&10: October 20-21 / Zhejiang International Circuit, China