Sunday, March 22, 2015

Audi R8 LMS Cup: Victory for Yoong in Zhuhai season opener

Audi R8 LMS Cup Press Release

Zhuhai, March 21, 2015 - Reigning Audi R8 LMS Cup champion Alex Yoong of Audi TEDA Racing Team got his title defense off to a strong start today by winning the opening round of the 2015 season at the Zhuhai International Circuit from female driver Rahel Frey of Castrol Racing Team. Earlier, Frey had taken the series’ first Superpole after an eight-car qualifying shootout to lead the field from the rolling start.

Third across the line at the end of the 16-lap race was series newcomer and its first Indian driver, Aditya Patel of Team Audi R8 LMS Cup, taking the Four Rings Trophy win ahead of 2012 champion, Marchy Lee of Audi Hong Kong Team, 4th overall. FAW-VW Audi Racing Team’s Franky Cheng finished 5th, having just missed out on making the Superpole cut to start from 9th on the grid.

Said Rene Koneberg, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia: “The new Superpole shootout brings another strategic element to the Audi R8 LMS Cup, while also adding to the excitement amongst the drivers, teams as well as spectators. Alex’s superb victory demonstrates once again why he is our reigning champion, and Aditya has proven to be a front-runner on his debut.”

As the lights went out to herald the start of the Audi R8 LMS Cup 2015 season it was Yoong who stole the advantage – in part by using a Push-to-Pass – from Frey after she locked up and ran slightly wide. The Malaysian grabbed the lead and immediately set about pulling out a gap, with Frey and Patel giving chase. A hard-charging Cheng got by Lee in the start melee, with Kimi Qin (SCC Sportscar Club) diving up to 6th from 10th on the grid.

As Yoong fought to pull a gap at the front of the pack, Frey held off Patel while keeping the Malaysian firmly in her sights. After an eventful start, with several drivers coming together and spinning off the track, Lap 4 saw the Safety Car collect the field after Tommy Wong of Starspeed Racing spun into the gravel. When racing resumed on Lap 6, Yoong made another quick getaway, while behind the leading three, Lee dived past Cheng and up to fourth.

Two laps after the restart, Yoong used Push-to-Pass seven times consecutively to set the fastest lap of the race, securing pole position for tomorrow’s race. While it looked as though Frey had finally shaken off Patel, the Indian driver closed back up on the penultimate lap but still could not find a way to overcome her skillful defense.

Dane Thomas Fjordbach (Team FM Racing) finished 6th, ahead of Qin with Shaun Thong (Michelin Racing Team) following him home. Kyong-Ouk You of Audi Korea was the fourth Four Rings Trophy driver to cross the line, 9th overall after an eventful race.

Top Amateur finisher was Samson Chan of Hong Kong racing for Z Racing, an impressive performance for his first time in the car, while behind him Team Chengdu New Elements’ Hugues Ripert and Team Asiasport’s Ashraff Dewal of Malaysia had battled it out for much of the race to finish 2nd and 3rd in the category respectively.

The race ended prematurely for Stefano Montesi (Team Betterlife), whose excellent qualifying performance saw him reach the Superpole shootout, Tommy Wong (Starspeed Racing), Jeffrey Lee (Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan), and Alex Au (CTVS Racing Team), who had been running 10th when a mechanical issue saw him pit on lap 12.

The Audi R8 LMS Cup 2015 season continues with Round 2 tomorrow when, in a range of new innovations introduced this season, the field will take a standing start for the first time in the series’ history. Yoong’s Round 1 win means he takes on an extra 50kgs of weight, Frey will carry a success ballast of 35kgs, and Patel an extra 20kgs.

Quotes after Round 1

Alex Yoong (Audi TEDA Racing Team)

“The car was great! I had one heart-stopping moment when the brakes got a bit too hot but otherwise everything went well. This is the toughest track in the world on brakes and I think the car is a little bit better this year – I could pretty much attack 100 percent of the time.

I used Push-to-Pass off the start and managed to get Rahel on the first corner. Phew, it was close! I used Push-to-Pass again after the restart and then I used it seven times in one lap just to make sure I could get the fastest lap.

I just realized I have 50 kgs tomorrow! So I have a small person as a passenger. Because this circuit is so hard on brakes, I have to be strategic tomorrow and really manage my brakes carefully in the race tomorrow.”

Rahel Frey (Castrol Racing Team)

“Second is a solid place, but I have to say congratulations to Alex for making a really good move off the start. I just got the wrong timing. Afterwards he was quick and I just tried to follow. I stressed my brakes a little to catch up, but this wasn’t so good for the car. I’m okay with second place, there is still some more work to come.”

Aditya Patel (Team Audi R8 LMS Cup)

“This is my first race and I’m pretty happy with a podium, but I would have liked to have had a little more pace in qualifying. As the race went on, there was a lot going on; I had Marchy catching up from behind and that kept me on my toes, and I was also trying to plan how to catch Rahel. I used Push-to-Pass to catch Rahel and tried to make a move, but couldn’t make it stick.”

Samson Chan (Z Racing)

“The team did a great job and gave me a good car. I’ve never driven an Audi R8 LMS Cup car before and this is my first time out and I’m still learning it. I hope I can improve tomorrow.”

Audi R8 LMS Cup website:

Round 1 Results

1. 1/Alex YOONG/MAL/Audi TEDA Racing/27:01.987
2. 66/Rahel FREY/SUI/Castrol Racing Team/+1.032
3. 8/Aditya PATEL/IND/4R/Team Audi R8 LMS Cup/+1.855
4. 88/Marchy LEE/HKG/4R/Audi Hong Kong Team/+2.500
5. 99/Franky CHENG/CHN/4R/FAW-VW Audi Racing Team/+6.559
6. 54/Thomas FJORDBACH/DEN/Team FM Racing/+9.904
7. 6/Kimi QIN/CHN/SCC Sportscar Club/+15.371
8. 26/Shaun THONG/CHN/Michelin Racing Team/+18.247
9. 11/Kyong-Ouk YOU/KOR/4R/Audi Korea/+18.534
10. 56/Samson CHANG/HKG/Am/Z Racing/+35.672
11. 3/Hugues RIPERT/HKG/Am/4R/Team Chengdu New Elements/+44.972
12. 69/Ashraff DEWAL/MAL/Am/Team Asiasport/+46.194
13. 51/Johnson HUANG/TPE/Am/BC Racing/+46.564
14. 36/Sam LOK/HKG/Am/Starspeed Racing/+55.891
15. 77/Jacky YEUNG/HKG/Am/Tiger Racing Team/+56.804
16. 59/Daniel BILSKI/HKG/Am/B-Quik Racing/+58.647

Not Classified

12/Alex AU/HKG/Am/CTVS Racing Team
33/Tommy WONG/HKG/Am/Starspeed Racing
7/Jeffrey LEE/TPE/4R/Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan
39/Stefano MONTESI/HKG/4R/Team Betterlife

2015 Audi R8 LMS Cup
Overall Classification after Round 1

1. Alex YOONG – 25
2. Rahel FREY – 19
3. Aditya PATEL – 15
4. Marchy LEE – 12
5. Franky CHENG – 10
6. Thomas FJORDBACH – 8
7. Kimi QIN – 6
8. Shaun THONG – 4
9. Kyong-Ouk YOU – 2
10. Samson CHAN – 1

Am Cup Classification after Round 1

1. Samson CHAN – 25
2. Hugues RIPERT – 18
3. Ashraff DEWAL – 15
4. Johnson HUANG – 12
5. Sam LOK – 10
6. Jacky YEUNG – 8
7. Daniel BILSKI – 6
8. Alex AU – 1

Team Cup Classification after Round 1

1. Audi TEDA Racing Team – 25
2. Castrol Racing Team – 19
3. Team Audi R8 LMS Cup/4R – 15
4. Audi Hong Kong Team/4R – 12
5. FAW-VW Audi Racing Team/4R – 10
6. Team FM Racing – 8
7. SCC Sportscar Club – 6
8. Michelin Racing Team – 4
9. Audi Korea/4R – 2
10. Z Racing – 1

Photo credit: Audi R8 LMS Cup