Rahel Frey of Castrol Racing Team leads the Audi R8 LMS Cup 2016 overall driver classification after taking podiums in both opening rounds. It was a historic weekend for the Cup as thousands of fans came out to the Shanghai International Circuit to witness the 50th race of the GT3 series. Estonian Martin Rump of Champion Racing Team finished the weekend second overall, ahead of Belgian Alessio Picariello of MGT Team by Absolute.
The weekend saw the Cup launch of the new generation Audi R8 LMS amidst the arrival of a new generation of drivers. With five different drivers across two podiums, the weekend served to highlight the competitiveness of the 2016 Cup line-up.
“It is a very special milestone for the Audi R8 LMS Cup to reach our 50th race this weekend,” said Rene Koneberg, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “It has been a great weekend. With the addition of our new car and so many young talents, this is the dawn of a new era at the Cup.”
In an eventful Round 1, Rump secured a lights-to-flag victory ahead of Marchy Lee of Audi Hong Kong and Frey. “My car felt amazing,” said Rump. “The race was quite a challenge because Marchy and Rahel were really fast and right behind me, trying to see if I would make a mistake. The Champion Racing Team guys told me yesterday that I was going to win and I guess they were right!”
Lee promptly worked his way up from fifth to second in the early stages of the race, with Frey piling increasing pressure on to him as the race progressed. Lee held her off to finish just one-tenth of a second ahead of the Swiss GT specialist.
Defending Cup champion Alex Yoong of Audi TEDA Racing Team steadily climbed from eighth to finish fourth despite contact with a hard-charging Picariello. 21-year-old Pole Jan Kisiel of KCMG stormed in at sixth, meaning that three of the top six drivers were young newcomers to the series.
With all three service teams represented on the podium in the season opener of the Audi R8 LMS Cup, the series continues to set new standards of competition and service quality for one-make racing in Asia.
In Round 2, Frey put in a wheel-perfect performance, finishing first from pole and recording the fastest lap of the race despite the additional 20 kilos of success ballast from her Round 1 win.
“I’m really happy,” said Frey. “I didn’t have the best start in the first race but I tried my best and we ended up on podium. We made some adjustments to the car before the second race and my car was almost flying. It was nice to see all three teams make it to the podium this weekend. Clearly, this is going to be a tough competition.”
Behind her in the field, Yoong got past Picariello, Rump and Marchy Lee, only to lose the battle for second place to the young Belgian, Picariello. Cheng came back strongly in Round 2 after a disappointing first race, charging ahead of Rump in the closing stages finishing fourth.
The defending champion is looking forward to the challenge for the rest of the year.
“The Cup has gotten tougher, which is makes it even more enjoyable. The new cars are very challenging and we are all still learning. I can’t wait for the next race.”
The fight for the Amateur Cup was no less dramatic. In Round 1, Jeffrey Lee of Team Audi Volkwagen Taiwan clinched victory ahead of fellow Taiwanese Johnson Huang of Absolute Racing and Chinese Sun Jing Zu, also of Absolute Racing. Round 2 saw Huang finish first, followed by Sun with Lee completing the podium.
Kevin Chun of J-Fly Racing by Absolute made Cup history with back-to-back race wins in the newly founded Masters Cup, the new classification for Amateur Drivers driving the previous generation Cup car.
With the championship off to a competitive start in Shanghai, the Cup will return for Rounds 3 & 4 on July 23-24 at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand.
Before then, the all-Asian Audi team will compete at the 24 hours Nürburgring for the second year running. Alex Yoong, Marchy Lee and Cheng Congfu will join Shaun Thong, who is part of the Audi Young Driver Development Programme, to take on the “Green Hell” on 26-29 May.
You can view our gallery of all the action here: Gallery.
Round 1 – Results
- 18/Martin RUMP/Champion Racing Team/27:14.045
- 88/Marchy LEE/Audi Hong Kong/+3.374
- 66/Rahel FREY/Castrol Racing Team/+3.438
- 1/Alex YOONG/Audi TEDA Racing Team/+8.059
- 6/Alessio PICARIELLO/ MGT Team by Absolute/+12.337
- 43/Jan KISIEL/KCMG/+17.941
- 8/Aditya PATEL/Team Audi R8 LMS Cup/+19.880
- 11/Kyong-Ouk YOU/Team Audi Korea/+22.589
- 99/Cheng Congfu (Franky)/FAW-VW Audi Racing Team/+25.702
- 19/Yuichi NAKAYAMA/ KCMG/+28.615
- 7/Jeffrey LEE/Am/Team Audi Volkwagen Taiwan/+45.932
- 51/Johnson HUANG/Am/Absolute Racing/+1:01.616
- 13/SUN Jing Zu/Am/Absolute Racing/+1:04.932
- 55/Vincent FLOIRENDO/Am/EN Sport by Absolute/+1:19.849
- 15/Chun Hua CHEN (Kevin)/Masters/J-Fly Racing by Absolute/+1:20.058
- 38/YOON Sanghwi (Rick)/Masters/Phoenix Racing Asia/+1:30.906
- 26/THONG Wei Heen (Jasper)/Am/Phoenix Racing Asia/+1 lap
- 17/Mark CHUNG/Masters/J-Fly Racing by Absolute/+9 laps
Round 2 – Results
- 66/Rahel FREY/Castrol Racing Team/27:15.751
- 6/Alessio PICARIELLO/ MGT Team by Absolute/+0.993
- 1/Alex YOONG/Audi TEDA Racing Team/+7.698
- 99/Cheng Congfu (Franky)/FAW-VW Audi Racing Team/+12.356
- 18/Martin RUMP/Champion Racing Team/+14.131
- 8/Aditya PATEL/Team Audi R8 LMS Cup/+16.272
- 19/Yuichi NAKAYAMA/ KCMG/+16.775
- 88/Marchy LEE/Audi Hong Kong/+20.708
- 11/Kyong-Ouk YOU/Team Audi Korea/+21.528
- 43/Jan KISIEL/KCMG/+21.882
- 51/Johnson HUANG/Am/Absolute Racing/+53.236
- 13/SUN Jing Zu/Am/Absolute Racing/+56.467
- 7/Jeffrey LEE/Am/Team Audi Volkwagen Taiwan/+1:12.817
- 26/THONG Wei Heen (Jasper)/Am/Phoenix Racing Asia/+1:18.567
- 15/Chun Hua CHEN (Kevin)/Masters/J-Fly Racing by Absolute/+1:22.435
- 55/Vincent FLOIRENDO/Am/EN Sport by Absolute/+1:29.439
- 17/Mark CHUNG/Masters/J-Fly Racing by Absolute/+1:29.879
- 38/YOON Sanghwi (Rick)/Masters/Phoenix Racing Asia/+11 laps
2016 Audi R8 LMS Cup Overall Classification after Round 2 – Top 10
- Rahel FREY – 40
- Martin RUMP – 36
- Alessio PICARIELLO – 28
- Alex YOONG – 27
- Marchy LEE – 22
- Cheng Congfu (Franky) – 14
- Aditya PATEL – 14
- Jan KISIEL – 9
- Yuichi NAKAYAMA – 7
- Kyong-Ouk YOU – 6
Am Cup Classification after Round 2 – Top 3
- Johnson HUANG – 44
- Jeffrey LEE – 40
- SUN Jing Zu – 33
Masters Cup Classification after Round 2 – Top 3
- Chun Hua CHEN (Kevin) – 50
- Mark CHUNG – 19
- YOON Sanghwi (Rick) – 18
Team Cup Classification after Round 2 – Top 3
- Castrol Racing Team – 40
- Champion Racing Team – 36
- MGT Team by Absolute – 28