Thursday, October 16, 2014

Audi R8 LMS Cup: Audi starts racing program for young Asian drivers

Audi R8 LMS Cup Press Release

• Young Driver Development Program supports Hong Kong youngster Shaun Thong, who joins the Audi China driver team
• New program builds on existing support for young talents like Audi R8 LMS Cup driver Aidan Wright
• Rene Koneberg: “Young driver support is a key element to further develop motorsport in Asia”

Beijing, October 16, 2014 - Audi has established a new racing program to develop young Asian drivers. Hong Kong youngster Shaun Thong is the first regional talent to join the Young Driver Development Program of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. The 18 year-old started with training at the legendary Nürburgring circuit in Germany during the first half of October. In addition to receiving training, Thong joins the driver team of Audi China.

“Audi is committed to developing motorsport in Asia, and one key element of this is to support and train young talents. Audi Sport customer racing Asia offers upcoming prospects a broad platform, including GT3 training and the option to participate in high-profile race events in both Asia and Europe”, says Rene Koneberg, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Shaun Thong has proven that he is both very talented and determined. We welcome him to the Audi China driver team and we look forward to supporting his career development.”

Since the start of activities in 2012, Audi Sport customer racing Asia has been playing an active role in nurturing local prospects. The Asia-based Audi R8 LMS Cup has attracted some of the hottest talents from the region, including Aidan Wright from Australia. The 2013 champion of the Formula Masters China Series (FMCS) joined the 2014 season of the Audi R8 LMS Cup as a member of the Audi China driver team. With Hong Kong’s rising star Matthew Solomon, who drives for Audi Hong Kong in the first ever brand cup of Audi worldwide, another youngster made the step from Volkswagen Group's FMCS to intense GT3 competition.

In August this year, Audi and the FMCS cooperated on a special test session for young drivers. Rewarded for their strong results in the first half of the 2014 season, FMCS Driver Classification leader James Munro (17 years old) of New Zealand and Indonesia’s Andersen Martono (17 years old), received instruction from former F1 driver Alex Yoong and had their first test runs in an Audi R8 LMS Cup car.

Shaun Thong had also made his mark in the Audi R8 LMS race car before. The participant of the new Young Driver Development Program had achieved a fifth place finish in Sepang, Malaysia as a guest driver in the 2013 Audi R8 LMS Cup.

Shaun Thong

During his first 30 months of competitive racing, Thong, born in 1995, has achieved an impressive 22 podium finishes, including 9 wins. After starting in karting aged 8, he has since competed in various levels of motorsports in Asia. In 2013, he was 2nd runner up in his first ever Formula Master China Series race at the famous and demanding Guia circuit in Macau. He also achieved a LMP2 race win with his team in South China's Zhuhai, and competed in European Formula competitions. In 2014, as a rookie, he won the winter series of the European F3 Open Copa.

Photo credit: Audi R8 LMS Cup