The fourth season of the Audi R8 LMS Cup blasts into action this weekend at Southern China’s Zhuhai International Circuit from March 21-22. New innovations for 2015 include a standing start for Race 2, while qualifying becomes a nail-biting affair with a Super Pole individual time trial for the top eight cars following the first qualifying session. In addition to the Race Success Ballast, 2015 introduces a new driver weight equalization system, creating an even more level-playing field.
The field of up to 22 identical Audi R8 LMS Cup cars will race across Asia’s finest tracks with Rounds 1&2 set for this weekend.
From Zhuhai, the Cup heads to the Korea International Circuit in South Korea, prior to making its debut in Chinese Taipei at the Penbay International Circuit this summer. From there, the Cup travels to Malaysia in August prior to marking another first for the series with two race weekends in support of the FIA World Endurance Championship. At Fuji from October 10-11 and at the Audi R8 LMS Cup season finale in Shanghai from October 31-November 1, fans of the brand with the Four Rings will have a chance to see the Audi motorsport family unite, with the Cup and the Audi Sport WEC team racing alongside each other.
“The Audi R8 LMS Cup stands for competitive, exciting and emotional racing,” said Rene Koneberg, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “With improved aerodynamics and new regulations, the stage is set for a season full of drama from this weekend in Zhuhai, to the final chequered flag in Shanghai. We are delighted to race in Chinese Taipei for the first time, adding another new circuit to the calendar, and further strengthening our position as leaders in the development of motor sport in Asia.”
Highlights from the Audi R8 LMS Cup will be broadcast on sports channels across Asia, including Fox Sports and Star Sports. In 2014, Audi R8 LMS Cup broadcasts reached more than 30 million households, while more than 300 journalists reported from the track. Live streaming will again be available this season at www.audir8lmscup.com.
Defending Audi R8 LMS Cup champion and former F1 driver Alex Yoong of Malaysia returns for 2015, and will go up against the likes of Hong Kong’s Marchy Lee, the 2012 champion, Swiss GT specialist Rahel Frey, and Chinese racing star Franky Cheng Congfu. Cheng will race with the new FAW-VW Audi Racing Team from Audi’s joint venture in China. Aditya Patel flies the flag for India this season, becoming the first ever driver from his country to race in the Cup. The impressive combination of veteran professionals, fledging talent and passionate amateurs guarantees non-stop action throughout the field.
This year, the new race weekend format will feature one rolling start (Race 1) and one standing start (Race 2). Among the new enhancements to the Audi R8 LMS Cup car is a new launch control technology to assist the drivers from standing starts; a lighter clutch for a more agile response; a recessed rear wing for greater aerodynamic downforce; and a modified brake system for optimized braking force distribution.
Tactics and strategy are as crucial as ever. This season, drivers will be permitted two sets of tyres during qualifying and two sets for the weekend’s double-header. The push-to-pass system – introduced in 2014 and a first for a GT3 series – again brings a unique tactical element to the Cup by giving drivers temporary power boosts. The number of push-to-pass boosts is limited, and makes for exciting maneuvers throughout the field.
In addition to the Audi R8 LMS Cup, the Audi Sport customer racing Asia programme expands to Europe, where Hong Kong’s Shaun Thong, 19, will compete in the new Audi Sport TT Cup. Together with Marchy Lee and Markus Winkelhock, Thong will also compete in the Blancpain Endurance Series with Phoenix Racing. Thong will also be part of the first all-Asian Audi race experience team at the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, with the full line-up to be announced shortly.
Thong’s 2015 race programme is part of Audi in Asia’s young driver development programme, and the livery of Thong’s cars in the TT Cup and the Blancpain Endurance Series will showcase the relationship with the Audi R8 LMS Cup.
Selected drivers representing the Audi R8 LMS Cup colours again compete in the GT Asia Series, once again demonstrating the commitment of Audi to motorsport in Asia, while at the same time raising the profile of the Audi R8 LMS Cup around the world.
2015 Audi R8 LMS Cup Calendar
March 21-22/ Zhuhai International Circuit, China/ Rounds 1&2
May 16-17/ Korea International Circuit, South Korea/ Rounds 3&4
July/ Penbay International Circuit, Chinese Taipei/ Rounds 5&6
August/ Malaysia/ Rounds 7&8
October 10-11/ Fuji International Speedway, Japan/ Rounds 9&10
October 31-November 1/ Shanghai, China/ Rounds 11&12