Following a dramatic weekend in Fuji, defending Audi R8 LMS Cup champion Alex Yoong of Audi TEDA Racing Team and Chinese motorsport star Cheng Congfu of FAW-VW Audi Racing Team are tied for the championship lead as the sprint-race series heads to its double-header season finale on October 31 in Shanghai. Ahead of its home race, the team from Chinese Audi joint venture FAW-VW leads the Team Cup.
“The championship is wide open heading to Shanghai and it’s remarkable that in each of the four Audi R8 LMS Cup seasons, the championship title decider has gone right down to the wire,” said Rene Koneberg, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia.
While Yoong won Round 10, the Malaysian saw his fortunes reversed in Round 11 when a broken suspension forced him to retire early. “Round 10 was a difficult race. I had used tires for this round and K.O. [You] was a lot quicker than me in the last sector,” said Yoong. “I tried to save my Push-to-Passes to set the fastest lap, but I needed to use it every lap to try and defend from K.O. Starting 10th in Round 11 was a big problem, really. I didn’t have the lap times during Round 10 so I didn’t know what lap times I was doing, just that I was defending against K.O. who was too close to me. In Round 11, I braked too late and made contact with Shaun [Thong] on the first turn and broke my suspension. It’s really hard to make up places carrying an extra 50 kgs.”
For Cheng, the weekend in support of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), saw him vault into serious championship contention. “After qualifying yesterday, I was not expecting to be in the position of going to Shanghai tied for the championship lead with Alex,” said Franky. “Last year, I was not in the championship fight, but now I have a serious chance to challenge for the championship. In Round 11, I got a great restart and I tried a move on Marchy from the outside, but I didn’t want to do anything crazy and I told myself I needed to keep cool. I don’t think about the championship to not give myself too much pressure, but now as we’re heading into the final race, I must face it. It’s a great honour and a great opportunity to be in this position.”
Audi Hong Kong Team driver Marchy Lee won his second race of the season in Round 11, becoming only the second driver after Yoong to record multiple wins this season, and is now third in the championship just 17 points out of the lead.
With 51 points still on offer, an exhilarating showdown is expected in Shanghai as the series once again joins forces with the Audi Sport motorsport family to race alongside the Audi WEC entries. Fourth and just a further four points adrift is Cup newcomer Thomas Fjordbach of Federal-Mogul Motorparts Racing, while female Swiss GT specialist Rahel Frey, who finished third in Round 11, rounds out the top five. India’s Aditya Patel of Team Audi R8 LMS Cup is sixth in the championship standings, following a difficult weekend.
In Round 10, Yoong scored a lights-to-flag victory, but had to defend throughout by a hard-charging Kyong-Ouk You of Audi Korea. You piled on the pressure and came within two-tenths of a second of Yoong, forcing the Malaysian to use his Push-to-Passes in order to fend off his rival. While Yoong was able to secure victory and the valuable championship points, he was unable to set a fast lap time and would start from 10th in Round 11.
While Lee started from second on the grid, the Hong Kong driver was carrying an extra 50 kgs Race Success Ballast for his victory last month in Malaysia and fell back at the start. Lee finished eighth overall, but was still able to record the second fastest lap to put him on the front row for Round 11.
In the closing stages of the race, Starspeed Racing driver Shaun Thong, who is part of the Audi Sport customer racing Asia Young Driver Development Programme and races in the Audi Sport TT Cup in Europe, overtook Cheng, who had been running third, for his maiden Audi R8 LMS Cup podium finish.
With the fastest lap times in Round 10 determining the grid for Round 11, it was Alex Au of CTVS Racing Team who made Cup history as the first Amateur Cup driver to start a race from pole position.
“Alex Au used the Push-to-Pass in order to achieve the fastest lap in Round 10, while other drivers used the feature to attack and defend, showcasing the versatility of this innovation,” Koneberg said.
Lee lined up alongside Au, with Italian Stefano Montesi of Team Betterlife and Patel comprising the second row.
The dramatic Round 11 opening lap saw plenty of action. Heading into the first turn, Lee and Au both braked late, with Lee running a bit wide. Au moved to the right to avoid contact with Lee, but came into contact with Patel and Fjordbach. Patel’s front splitter broke and he was forced to retire after five laps.
Further back, Montesi had run wide and as he came back on track, Yoong went on the inside to avoid contact. In the process, Yoong collected You, with You spinning and retiring from the race. A third incident at Turn 5 between BC Racing driver Johnson Huang and Cup newcomer Vincent Floirendo of Team Chengdu New Elements brought out the Safety Car.
Following the restart on Lap 4, Lee held the lead and would control the remainder of the race. Cheng got past Patel, as did Frey. Cheng set his sights on Lee, but with championship points on the line decided to bring the car home safely in second. After the restart, Yoong made contact with Thong, suffering a broken suspension and was forced to retire.
While the fight of the 2015 championship title intensifies, so too does the battle for the Amateur Cup. B-Quik Racing driver Daniel Bilski continues to lead the category, while Au – in addition to his history making pole position – took two category wins to move into second in the championship standings. In Round 10, Au won ahead of Huang and Kevin Chen of J-Fly Racing, while Au was joined on the Round 11 podium by Chen and Bilski, who were second and third, respectively. Buoyed by his strong results in Fuji, Au is now looking to take the fight for a second category title to Shanghai, where he’ll no doubt face a determined Bilksi.
Rounds 12&13 of the Audi R8 LMS Cup will be held from October 30-31 at the Shanghai International Circuit in support of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Round 10 – Results
1. 1/Alex YOONG/MAL/Audi TEDA Racing Team/27:42.020
2. 11/Kyong-Ouk YOU/KOR/4R/Audi Korea/+1.479
3. 26/Shaun THONG/HKG/Starspeed Racing/+3.935
4. 99/CHENG Congfu/FAW-VW Audi Racing Team/+5.340
5. 54/Thomas FJORDBACH/DEN/Federal-Mogul Motorparts Racing/+5.470
6. 27/Ryo FUKUDA/JPN/Starspeed Racing/+6.673
7. 66/Rahel FREY/SUI/Castrol Racing Team/+9.343
8. 88/Marchy LEE/HKG/4R/Audi Hong Kong Team/+10.934
9. 8/Aditya PATEL/IND/4R/Team Audi R8 LMS Cup/+12.144
10. 7/Jeffrey LEE/TPE/4R/Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan/+17.276
11. 12/Alex AU/HKG/Am/CTVS Racing Team/+19.101
12. 24/David CHENG/USA/Michelin Racing Team/+35.887
13. 51/Johnson HUANG/TPE/Am/BC Racing/+39.057
14. 39/Stefano MONTESI/ITA/4R/Team Betterlife/+39.650
15. 15/Kevin CHEN/Am/TPE/J-Fly Racing/+43.030
16. 55/Vincent FLOIRENDO/Am/4R/PHI/Team Chengdu New Elements/+48.508
17. 59/Daniel Bilski/AUS/Am/B-Quik Racing/+48.920
DNF 5/Andrew KIM/KOR/E-Rain Racing Team
Round 11 – Results
1. 88/Marchy LEE/HKG/4R/Audi Hong Kong Team/+30:16.258
2. 99/CHENG Congfu/FAW-VW Audi Racing Team/+2.609
3. 66/Rahel FREY/SUI/Castrol Racing Team/+4.266
4. 26/Shaun THONG/HKG/Starspeed Racing/+9.686
5. 27/Ryo FUKUDA/JPN/Starspeed Racing/+12.705
6. 39/Stefano MONTESI/ITA/4R/Team Betterlife/+19.741
7. 54/Thomas FJORDBACH/DEN/Federal-Mogul Motorparts Racing/+21.195
8. 7/Jeffrey LEE/TPE/4R/Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan/+21.768
9. 12/Alex AU/HKG/Am/CTVS Racing Team/+29.778
10. 24/David CHENG/USA/Michelin Racing Team/+38.259
11. 15/Kevin CHEN/Am/TPE/J-Fly Racing/+49.520
12. 59/Daniel Bilski/AUS/Am/B-Quik Racing/+51.016
13. 55/Vincent FLOIRENDO/Am/4R/PHI/Team Chengdu New Elements/+51.953
14. 51/Johnson HUANG/TPE/Am/BC Racing/+1:22.058
DNF 8/Aditya PATEL/IND/4R/Team Audi R8 LMS Cup
DNF 1/Alex YOONG/MAL/Audi TEDA Racing Team
DNF 5/Andrew KIM/KOR/E-Rain Racing Team
DNF 11/Kyong-Ouk YOU/KOR/4R/Audi Korea
2015 Audi R8 LMS Cup
Overall Classification after Round 11 – Top 10
1. Alex YOONG – 127
2. Franky CHENG – 127
3. Marchy LEE – 110
4. Thomas FJORDBACH – 106
5. Rahel FREY – 95
6. Aditya PATEL – 92
7. Kyong-Ouk YOU – 62
8. Stefano MONTESI – 54
9. Edoardo MORTARA – 42
10. Jeffrey LEE – 38
Am Cup Classification after Round 11 – Top 3
1. Daniel BILSKI – 159
2. Ashraff DEWAL – 140
3. Johnson HUANG – 124
Team Cup Classification after Round 9 – Top 3
1. FAW-VW Audi Racing Team/4R – 159
2. Castrol Racing Team – 139
3. Audi TEDA Racing Team – 128