With the dust hardly settled after a storming Ningbo debut less than a month ago, the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup thunders back into action next week, this time at the formidable Shanghai International Circuit. Rounds seven and eight of the 10-race 2018 season will be decided on the 5.451km home to the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix on October 5-6.
“With just four races of the 2018 season remaining, the stakes are high as we return to the circuit on which the Cup launched in 2012,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “As well as two important Cup rounds, the weekend will also see our series’ first invitational race, the SIC888 endurance event, plus TCR China and Asia, showcasing the full portfolio of Audi Sport customer racing machinery.”
Andrew Haryanto of ProMax Team currently leads the GT3 Cup title race (105 points) after only missing out on the podium once in six races thus far, recording his solitary race win in the season opener in Adelaide. After three victories this season, Thai driver Bhurit Bhirombhakdi of Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing is lurking just six points behind his Indonesian friend and rival (99 points).
Australian Yasser Shahin of The Bend Motorsport Park (73 points) and Absolute Racing’s Sun Jingzu of China (65 points) remain very much in championship contention with 104 points still on offer in 2018.
With the weekend concluding the China rounds for this season, the third seat on the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup team at 2019 Total 24 Hours of Spa will be decided in Shanghai – a prize available for the highest GT3 points-scorer in each of the four nations the Cup visits in 2018.
The GT3 Cup front-runners, Haryanto and Bhirombhakdi, have already secured their seats on the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup team at the 2019 Total 24 Hours of Spa by way of their leading points hauls in Australia and Germany respectively.
With a total of 51 Road to Spa points up for grabs in Shanghai, the seat could theoretically go to any of the GT3 championship drivers, but it is likely to be a close fought contest between arch rivals Sun, who took 37 points in Ningbo, Shahin, who has earned 33 Road to Spa points, and Cup star Jeffrey Lee of Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan, who scored 22 points in Ningbo. Sun and Shahin will carry 30kg of success ballast in round seven, setting the scene for a truly epic showdown to decide who will join Haryanto and Bhirombhakdi on the Spa squad.
Leading the GT4 Cup with four Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup races to go is Indonesian Anderson Tanoto, who will carry the maximum success ballast of 50kg in round seven. Joining him in the category is newcomer to the Cup’s GT4 ranks, Sam Lok, while Team FEA Zhengzhou is also set to enter its new Audi R8 LMS GT4.
A busy weekend lies in store for Audi Sport customer racing Asia. Not only does the Cup have two, 13-lap races over the weekend, but the Audi RS 3 LMS will be out on track in the TCR Asia Series and TCR China Series, while a strong Audi customer entry has been announced for the inaugural SIC888 endurance race, featuring former F1 driver, Rio Haryanto.
Along with that, the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup heads to China for two triple-headers, with six Audi RS 3 LMS entries. First, the series heads to the Ningbo International Speedpark on September 28-30, then to the Wuhan International Street Circuit on October 5-7. Jean-Karl Vernay is currently the highest-placed of the Audi drivers, fifth in the overall standings following two race wins so far this season. The Frenchman currently sits on 166 points, 36 points from the top spot.
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup Shanghai weekend gets under way with qualifying for rounds seven and eight starting at 9:50 on Friday, October 5, with two 15-minute sessions. Round seven roars off the grid at 12:30 later that day, with round eight then on Saturday October 6 at 13:15 (all times UTC +8).
Both rounds will be live streamed on the Cup’s website and Facebook page along with Chinese portals PPTV, Youku, and more.
The SIC888 invitational endurance race kicks off at 10:30, Sunday October 7 (UTC +8). With the SIC888 streamed in its entirety on the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup’s website and Facebook page.
TCR Asia Series and TCR China Series kick off with a shared qualifying on Friday October 5 at 9:00, and a shared race one and two starting later at 11:15 and 14:15 respectively. TCR China Series then closes out the weekend with a third race at 16:30 later that day (all times UTC +8).
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup is operated by Audi Sport customer racing Asia.