Published on July 5th, 2019 | by Amirul Mukminin0
Asia-Pacific Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup Team to Debut at Total 24 Hours of Spa
An Asia-Pacific Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup team is set to debut at this month’s 2019 Total 24 Hours of Spa. As the GT3 sportscar elite meet at one of the world’s most breath-taking race tracks, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, reigning Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup champion Andrew Haryanto joins fellow championship stars Yasser Shahin, Jeffrey Lee and Sun Jingzu. The seats were awarded via the Cup’s 2018 season Road to Spa initiative.
“The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup is bringing some of the finest privateer drivers from the Asia-Pacific region to this legendary 24 hour race. It will be a welcome, but tough challenge for them to compete among the world’s best professionals,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Now we are looking forward to getting started in Belgium.”
A long-term partner of Audi in Asia, team Absolute Racing will service the entry, which will line up as one of more than 10 expected Audi R8 LMS GT3s at the endurance classic on July 25 to 28.
Home to the notorious Eau Rouge/Raidillon combination, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium is one of the most famous tracks in global motorsport, and the team’s previous experience there may prove invaluable. Haryanto made an impressive debut in last year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa, finishing runner-up in the Group N class, while Lee took part in 2010. Shahin has raced at the legendary circuit before, albeit not at the 24 hour event, while Sun makes his circuit debut.
The Road to Spa contest was held throughout the 2018 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup season, with each driver earning their place on the team after accumulating the highest number of championship points in each country the Cup visited. Sun has taken the Road to Spa seat awarded to Thailand’s Bhurit Bhirombhakdi who is unable to join the team due to business commitments. Sun was the highest remaining GT3 points-scorer in 2018.
During the 2019 season, as well as contesting the overall championship, all Cup drivers are competing in the Road to Suzuka contest which will see a Cup team entered in the 2020 Suzuka 10 Hours.
Since 2011, Audi has won the Total 24 Hours of Spa four times, and the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup team will be joined on the grid by a number of other Audi R8 LMS GT3 entries. Four of the driver squads are nominated by Audi Sport customer racing to score points towards the Intercontinental GT Challenge of which the Total 24 Hours of Spa is the European round.
Audi Sport Team WRT – the 2011 and 2014 winning team – is fielding two Audi R8 LMS cars for Audi Sport customer racing. Audi Sport drivers Frank Stippler and Dries Vanthoor, who won the 24 Hours of Nürburgring a week ago, will be sharing a cockpit with the Spaniard Alex Riberas.
Robin Frijns, Nico Müller and René Rast, three of the six Audi factory drivers in the DTM, are going to drive another Audi R8 LMS for the Belgian team. Rast has previously won the race back in 2012 with Frank Stippler and a second time in 2014. Audi Sport Team Saintéloc is entering a third Audi R8 LMS on behalf of Audi Sport customer racing. The team from France won the Total 24 Hours of Spa in 2017, with Markus Winkelhock and Christopher Haase, among others. As in 2018, both are forming a driver squad together with this year’s Nürburgring winner Frédéric Vervisch.
Team Montaplast by Land-Motorsport – in third position last year as the best Audi team – is going to use the opportunity of the prestigious race for another entry. Ricardo Feller and Audi Sport driver Christopher Mies will be supported by a three-time world champion: José María López will drive an Audi R8 LMS for the first time. The Argentinian won the World Touring Car Championship between 2014 and 2016 and is the runner-up in the 2018/2019 FIA WEC season.
A number of additional Audi Sport customer teams will further swell the presence of the four rings at the biggest GT3 race on the global motorsport calendar.