The weekend was action packed in Sepang – with the GT Asia series taking over our local, beloved race circuit. With multiple other races taking place alongside too, we were invited down by Audi Malaysia to enjoy their hospitality suite during the run of the Audi R8 LMS Cup Rounds 8 & 9 over the weekend.
In support of our local talent – Alex Yoong of Audi TEDA Racing Team was an absolute star with his atomic performance over the weekend, winning Round 8 and placing fourth in Round 9; putting him top on the leaderboard in the Audi R8 LMS Cup 2015 Season.
The 2014 defending champion won Round 8 ahead of Marchy Lee of Audi Hong Kong Team and Rahel Frey of Castrol Racing Team. Lee took his maiden victory of the season following a hard-fought Round 9, which saw him cross the line just three-tenths of a second ahead of Chinese motorsport star Cheng Congfu of FAW-VW Audi Racing Team, with Frey again in third.
Such is the parity of the championship that there have been seven different winners thus far this season. Yoong’s victory and fourth-place finish in Round 9 propelled him to top of the championship leaderboard, but the Malaysian is just four points ahead of Cheng. Denmark’s Thomas Fjordback of Federal-Mogul Motorparts Racing and India’s Aditya Patel of Team Audi R8 LMS Cup are tied for third in the championship a further seven points adrift.
Patel arrived in Sepang as the championship points leader, but was not able to finish Round 8 and was forced to fight his way through the field to finish fifth in today’s Round 9. Lee’s superb weekend has seen him move up two places to round out the top five. Female Swiss GT specialist Frey is sixth in the standings after her pair of third-place finishes this weekend.
In Round 8, there was an immediate battle for the lead, with Yoong, who started from third on the grid, getting past pole-sitter Cheng on the opening lap. As the front of the field jostled for position, contact by Marchy Lee and Patel forced the Indian driver to retire early. By the end of the first lap it was Yoong, leading Cheng and Audi Korea driver Kyong-Ouk You, with Fjordbach fourth.
Frey from sixth and Lee from fifth overtook the drivers ahead of them and mid-way through the race, Yoong was leading Lee and Frey. While Lee came within 0.7 seconds of the race leader, the Malaysian began to pull away, utilizing his Push-to-Passes when he needed them most to take the chequered flag.
With the fastest lap times from Round 8 setting the grid for Round 9, Yoong was on pole for the second 12-lap sprint race. Lee’s time put him alongside Yoong on the first row, with You starting from third. Italian Stefano Montesi was right on the pace in Round 8 setting the fourth-fastest lap time to put himself on the second row for Round 9.
Yoong held the lead at the start of Round 9, with Lee following in second. Frey, who started from fifth, got past Montesi, You and Lee to close in on Yoong. On Lap 3, Frey made a brilliant move to take the lead, while Lee also got past Yoong to take second position. Two laps later, a hard-charging Cheng also found his way past. the race, Cheng was pushing Lee and the two cars were side-by-side, but Lee was able to hold on to take the win by a narrow 0.353-second margin.
Behind Yoong was Patel, who had worked his way up to fifth from the back of the field, after being unable to set a lap time in Round 8 and was therefore forced to start from the back of the grid. Montesi finished just shy of the top five, following a strong performance from the Team Betterlife driver.
The competitive Amateur Cup category also proved to be a thriller – Korean Andrew Kim made it a perfect weekend in the category with pole position and two victories, but not before having to fend off new Amateur Cup points leader Daniel Bilski. In Round 8 Kim started from eighth on the grid, before falling back to 11th, one position behind category rival Bilski. However, the pair battled throughout with Kim overtaking the Australian with just two laps remaining in the race to score his maiden Amateur Cup victory.
In Round 9, Alex Au was leading the Amateur Cup when he became caught up in an incident ahead, which forced him to retire three laps from the chequered flag. Kim and Bilski then battled for top honours, with Kim ultimately winning out.
The Audi R8 LMS Cup roars back into action for Rounds 10&11 next month in support of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Highlights from Rounds 8&9 will be broadcast on Fox Sports Asia. Please check www.audir8lmscup.com for television times.
Words & Photos: Qhalis Najmi | Audi