Published on May 20th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
ASIAN Audi team at Nürburgring 24 Hours Take 12th place finish
The Audi Sport customer racing Asia team of Malaysian Alex Yoong, China’s Franky Cheng and Hong Kong drivers Marchy Lee and Shaun Thong made history as the first all-Asian Audi line-up for the Nürburgring 24 Hours, with a strong 12th-place finish, from more than 150 entries, on their debut at the notoriously demanding track. The team’s achievement contributed to the overall success of Audi at the iconic endurance race, with the Audi Sport Team WRT taking victory by 40 seconds in the new Audi R8 LMS GT3 car.
The #15 Audi race experience car saw defending Audi R8 LMS Cup champion Yoong, 2012 Cup champion Lee, Chinese motorsport star Cheng and 19-year old Audi Sport TT Cup driver Thong, climb from 32nd up to 12th as they successfully mastered the 25 km-long combination of the Nordschleife and the Grand Prix circuit.
Featuring the Audi R8 LMS Cup livery on its side to underscore the Audi Sport customer racing Asia programme, the team’s car was instantly recognizable. While Yoong made his debut at the Nürburgring in 2012, this year marked the first time he has raced together with his fellow Audi R8 LMS Cup drivers and Thong, who is part of the Audi in Asia’s young driver development programme.
After qualifying 32nd, the team elected Yoong to take the first stint to take the car through traffic. The first six hours went smoothly, with Lee taking over from Yoong, followed by Thong and Cheng. During the night, a mix of dry and wet conditions added to the challenge and drama of the race. Lee was the first to encounter the rain, then Thong, who had originally been scheduled to take a single night stint, but had a second stint added after putting in some superbly quick lap times. Driving duties were then handed to Yoong and Cheng, who each drove a double stint, with Cheng suffering a tire puncture following an incident in front of him. Overnight, the team moved up 10 positions and were 15th with seven hours remaining.
As dawn arrived, so too did the sun and the race continued smoothly throughout the day for the team, with Lee, Thong, Cheng and Yoong working together perfectly. The #15 car moved up one position to 14th overall when Lee took over from Yoong with one hour remaining. Lee brought the car home safely and, with two retirements in the final hour, the team was promoted two places up to 12th.
Lee and Thong will be in action again this weekend, along with 2014 Nürburgring 24 Hours champion Markus Winkelhock, competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series in an Audi R8 LMS ultra, another feather in the cap of the rapidly-expanding Audi Sport customer racing Asia programme.