Saturday, November 1, 2014

Audi R8 LMS Cup: Yoong and Couto extend battle for championship to Abu Dhabi

Audi R8 LMS Cup Press Release

• Wins for André Couto and championship leader Alex Yoong
• Steven Lin crowned 2014 Audi R8 LMS Cup Amateur Champion
• Cup announces Super Pole and driver weight equalizing for 2015

Shanghai, November 1, 2014 — Alex Yoong leads the overall championship in the Audi R8 LMS Cup after racing to victory in Round 10. His win takes his points tally to 156, a narrow seven-point advantage over Macanese driver André Couto (149 points), who won Round 9 earlier in the day. Rahel Frey (121 points) in third place and “Franky” Cheng Congfu (112 points) are also still in contention to win the championship at the final race weekend in Abu Dhabi on December 12-13. In slippery and dark conditions, drivers battled hard for crucial points, resulting in two exciting races with lots of overtaking on the full length Formula One Shanghai International Circuit. Rounds 9 and 10 were held alongside the World Endurance Championship.

“Amazing overtaking manoeuvres and spectacular racing with close battles showed how exciting a sprint race series can be. An additional exciting component for the drivers and spectators was that it felt like a night race due to the delay from the safety car period,” commented Rene Koneberg, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “As we had expected, the final champion will only be decided in Abu Dhabi.”

Round 10 got off to a dramatic start, with a collision between “Franky” Cheng Congfu, Adderly Fong and Couto causing a pile-up in turn one and sending several drivers off the track. Marchy Lee, who started the race in pole position, and Yoong pulled away from the incident unscathed as the safety car came out.

The race restarted without Fong and Cheng, who both had to retire with damaged cars. Yoong took the lead from Lee, while Rahel Frey further worked her way up after starting from 12th position due to her disappointing Round 9. While Yoong managed to defend his lead until the end, Frey first overtook Lee, before the Hong Kong veteran regained second place with a spectacular move in the last corner of the final lap.

Close behind the top three, youngsters Matt Solomon and Aidan Wright had a great race but were eventually both overtaken by local favourite Sun Zheng, who finished fourth. The strategy of Sun to conserve tyres in Round 9 paid off well.

André Couto finished Round 10 in eighth, after the collision at the start of the race had seen him spin and drop down the field. This means that Couto lost his lead in the championship which he had just gained with his win in Round 9. The Macanese driver won the morning race on Saturday ahead of 2013 Champion Fong and Cheng. Yoong had managed to get out in front early on but Couto kept pressing. He eventually retook the lead from Yoong and kept it until the end. Couto’s decisive move resulted in contact with the Malaysian, who spun and lost position to eventually finish sixth.

With his win in Round 9, Steven Lin had secured the Amateur championship three races before the end of the season. Despite being crowned in the morning, he still had the enthusiasm to race hard in Round 10, making it another two back-to-back victories this season. He tops the amateur rankings ahead of Ashraff Dewal and Jacky Yeung.

The Cup announced two new features for the 2015 season this weekend. For qualifying the Cup introduces Super Pole. After an initial 15 minute qualifying session for all drivers, the top eight will battle it out in single lap runs in a second session.

Also new in 2015 will be the driver weight equalization. After being weighed in full gear, drivers will have weight added to their cars to bring them up to at least 80 kg.

The season finale of the 2014 Audi R8 LMS Cup will be held in Abu Dhabi for the first time ever on December 12-13. With former Formula One driver Yoong and former Macau GP winner Couto so close together at the top of the leaderboard, the championship will go down to the wire in the Middle East.

Alex Yoong:

“I’m now just concentrating on Abu Dhabi. I’m trying to think of the best strategy – I’ll go over the best options with my engineers and the team. We’ll look at set-up options for the car and look at the layout of the Yas Marina Circuit. Tyres will be the key to winning the championship in Abu Dhabi. If we can get the tyres to perform at their best, then I should be able to have a shot at winning!”

André Couto:

“The first race was very difficult. In the beginning I struggled with the car, but then later on I got into a good pace. I managed to take the lead and then drove on to win. It was a good result for me, but today is Steven Lin’s day – he’s the Amateur Champion now.”

Rahel Frey:

“It must have been a great show for the crowd! I have to congratulate Alex and Marchy, who drove really well and made it an exciting race. My strategy for Round 10 was to push from the start, as I was in 12th. There was a lot of action after the first turn and luckily I survived! The car performed well and I got up to second, but unfortunately I finished in third. I’m still happy with the result anyway.”

Steven Lin:

“I have to thank my engineer and the whole team, who worked hard to make it possible for me to win the amateur championship. My strategy today was to drive safely and steadily. I had a smooth race in Round 9 and sealed the championship. I’m looking forward to the finale in Abu Dhabi now.”

Marchy Lee:

“Even though I fell behind into third place, I never gave up. At the last corner I had the chance to overtake Rahel and I took it.”

Adderly Fong:

“I was a bit optimistic with the brakes, which caused me to collide with another driver at the beginning. It was a pity I couldn’t continue – after my second place in Round 9, I was hoping to carry on my good form into Round 10.”

2014 Audi R8 LMS Cup
Round 9 — Shanghai International Circuit, China
Official Result

Am = Am Cup Competitor    4R = Four Rings Trophy Driver    DNF = Did Not Finish

2014 Audi R8 LMS Cup
Round 10 — Shanghai International Circuit, China
Official Result

Am = Am Cup Competitor    4R = Four Rings Trophy Driver    DNF = Did Not Finish

2014 Audi R8 LMS Cup
Top Ten Overall Classification After Round 10

2014 Audi R8 LMS Cup
Top Three Am Cup Classification After Round 10

Photo credit: Audi R8 LMS Cup