An action-packed weekend of racing on two continents showcases the expanded reach of the Audi Sport customer racing Asia platform: the Audi R8 LMS Cup heads to the Korea International Circuit for Rounds 3&4, while the first all-Asian Audi team is set to tackle the “Green Hell” at the legendary Nürburgring 24 Hours.
The Audi R8 LMS Cup roars back into action this weekend, after a dramatic season opener in China in March. Leading the charge to Korea is Swiss female driver and GT specialist Rahel Frey of Castrol Racing Team. Frey took the Cup’s maiden Superpole at the season opener in Zhuhai, before finishing 2nd in Round 1. One of the new innovations for the 2015 season, Superpole makes qualifying a nail-biting affair with the top eight drivers from the first session each completing a single timed lap to determine pole position for the first race of the weekend.
Frey will face a fierce battle for top spot against the likes of series newcomers, Team Audi R8 LMS Cup driver Aditya Patel, the Cup’s first-ever driver from India who was third in Round 1, and Denmark’s Thomas Fjordbach of Federal-Mogul Motorparts Racing Team, sixth in his maiden race.
The two rounds in the port city of Mokpo will also see Audi Korea driver Kyong-Ouk (K.O.) You race in front of his home fans. You’s work as one of the Top Gear Korea presenters has made him a celebrity at home, and he will be hoping to match his TV fame with his on-track performance. The second Korean to compete this weekend is Andrew Kim of E-Rain Racing Team who makes his series debut.
Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay, runner-up in the Blancpain Endurance Series last month in an Audi R8 LMS ultra, joins the Audi R8 LMS Cup for the first time in Korea with FAW-VW Audi Racing Team.
Also joining the Cup for the first time are Australian Jake Parsons, 20, who currently tops the leaderboard of the junior single-seater championship, Formula Masters China Series, and former Formula 1 test driver Ryo Fukuda of Japan.
Fukuda joins the Audi Hong Kong Team in place of Cup regular Marchy Lee, who, along with defending champion Alex Yoong of Malaysia and Chinese motorsport hero Franky Cheng, joins the all-Asian Audi squad at this weekend’s Nürburgring 24 Hours. Racing an Audi R8 LMS ultra for team Audi race experience, the trio is joined by 19-year old Audi Sport TT Cup regular Shaun Thong for the iconic endurance race.
The entry is part of the expanded Audi Sport customer racing Asia programme. The 24-hour race at the Nürburgring is regarded as a particularly challenging event. The 25.378-kilometer combination of the Grand Prix circuit and the Nordschleife was opened in 1927. The Asian team will take on the world’s longest race track with the logo of the Audi R8 LMS Cup on the car’s side livery.
Said Rene Koneberg, Director Audi Sport customer racing Asia: “This weekend illustrates the strength and the expansion of the Audi Sport customer racing Asia platform. Two rounds of the Audi R8 LMS Cup in Korea and our entry in the legendary Nürburgring 24 Hours, where we align with the premier global activities of Audi Sport, showcase the broad reach of the programme. Audi continues to lead the way in Asian motorsport while simultaneously providing opportunities for Asian talent to shine on the global stage.”
The Cup will also meet with the Audi entry in the GT Asia Series. Hong Kong driver Jerry Wang makes his debut in the GTM Class with Absolute Racing, in the opening rounds at Korea’s F1 track this weekend.
Adding further intrigue to the Audi R8 LMS Cup are this season’s new innovations, which see the first race (Round 3) of the weekend begin with a rolling start, and Round 4 roar off the grid from a standing start. Also new this year is driver weight equalization, where weight is added to bring each driver up to 80kg.
With the Cup’s Race Success Ballast, introduced last season, Patel will carry 35 kg in Round 3, and Fjordbach will carry 20 kg of extra weight. The Race Success Ballast is based on the finishing order of the previous round. Yoong finished ahead of Patel and Fjordbach in Round 2, which was red-flagged on lap four. Sawdust, placed on the track in earlier, unrelated sessions, was drawn into vulnerable areas of the cars. Under force majeure, the race was not resumed, but was declared official with more than two laps completed. With less than 50% of laps completed, no points were awarded.
This weekend’s two 12-lap races take place at the Korea International Circuit. Following Saturday’s Superpole qualifying is Round 3, with Round 4 on Sunday. Both races can be streamed live online at www.audir8lmscup.com (English) and on www.letv.com (Chinese).