Published on November 20th, 2019 | by Amirul Mukminin0
Contenders Set to Vie for 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup Title
The battle for the final Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup title comes down to the wire this weekend at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit where five drivers will go head-to-head to become the series eighth champion.
Leading the charge, with an 11-point lead, is The Bend Motorsport Park’s Yasser Shahin, but four rivals will be equally determined to capture the historic accolade. Alex Au of CTVS Racers by Absolute looks best placed to launch that challenge from second on the leaderboard, but 2018 champion Andrew Haryanto of Absolute Racing will also be one to watch as he sits just four points behind Au in third.
Having missed out on the 2018 overall title by a whisker, Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing’s Bhurit Bhirombhakdi will looking to build a title shot from fourth. The Thai driver is 19 points behind Shahin and well within striking distance. Tony Bates is the fifth and final driver in mathematical contention for the GT3 title, 34 points from the lead with 52 up for grabs in Malaysia.
As the top points scorer at the opening rounds in Adelaide, Australia, where he won the opening race of the season, Bates arrives for his Sepang International Circuit debut ideally placed to secure the final seat on the Audi Sport Asia team for the 2020 Suzuka 10 Hours. The fully-funded seat is a reward on offer to the highest combined points-scorer from the Cup’s season opener and finale double-headers, and the winner will join Anthony Liu and Andrew Haryanto to form a three-man squad.
The Sepang International Circuit double-header will be the last Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup event, with the Audi Sport Asia Trophy taking its place from 2020. The new trophy will reward successful Audi customers entries in Asia’s multi-marque championships and events.
“The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup title fight has traditionally gone right down to the wire, and this year has been no different,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “There is everything to race for in Sepang. It will be a weekend of high emotions, and we want to send the Cup off with another signature weekend to remember for all.”
Adding to the excitement will be the presence of nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans champion, Audi legend Tom Kristensen. Often referred to as ‘Mr. Le Mans’ due to his unbeaten record of wins, Kristensen will be on hand to mentor the Cup drivers throughout the weekend alongside regular Audi Sport Asia driver mentors Martin Rump, Weiron Tan and Cheng Congfu.
Ensport Motors by Absolute Racing’s Vincent Floirendo heads to Malaysia just out of championship contention having only returned to the series in Zhuhai earlier this year, but is firmly in the lead of the Challenger Trophy standings. Also back for the finale is Australian and fellow Challenger Trophy entrant George Nakas who impressed on his Cup and GT3 competition debut in Suzuka in August.
After contesting the opening four races of the season before turning his talent to the Thailand Super Series, former Am Cup champion Daniel Bilski returns with B-Quik Racing. Meanwhile, making his first Cup appearance this season is B-Quik Racing team principal Henk Kiks in the team’s second 2019 Audi R8 LMS GT3. The pair recently clinched both the Super Car GT3 team and Am driver Thailand Super Series titles having displayed scorching form all season.
Paul Kanjanapas makes his Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup debut in an Absolute Racing run Audi R8 LMS GT3.
Entries in the Audi Sport R8 LMS GT4 Cup category are headed by class points leader Sheng Yanwen of FEA, who is joined by teammates Zhang Dongqi and Qu Pengfei. Shang sits on 67 points in first place, but will face a stern challenge from reigning Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT4 champion Anderson Tanoto of Absolute Racing. Tanoto is sixth in the category on 43 points but still within striking distance of his second title in a row.
Racing alongside the Sepang 1000km, the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup gets underway on Friday, November 22 with two 45-minute practice sessions followed by a 15-minute qualifying for round nine under lights at 20:30. Round nine follows on Saturday, November 23, once again under lights at 22:00. Qualifying for round ten starts at 11:00 on Sunday, November 24, with the final round of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup beginning at 14:00 (all times UTC +8).