Audi Sport customer racing Asia has announced a ten-race, four-nation calendar for the eighth season of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup in 2019. The Asia-based competition will retain its successful all-privateer format with a strong focus on driver development, professional mentoring and a swathe of unique, money-can’t-buy benefits.
The season starts with two rounds on the streets of Adelaide on March 2-3, where in 2018 the Cup made its Australian debut in front of more than 270,000 spectators. The series then returns to China for two double-headers at the Zhuhai International Circuit on May 4-5 and at the home of the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix in Shanghai on June 1-2. Rounds seven and eight will be held at Japan’s iconic Suzuka Circuit on August 23-24, in support of a major Audi Sport customer racing event, the Suzuka 10 Hours, a stop on the Intercontinental GT Challenge calendar. For the finale, the Cup returns to a series staple track, Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, with rounds nine and ten on November 23-24.
The new season will also see the debut of the new 2019 Audi R8 LMS GT3. With improved stability and handling, the updated race car was designed especially with privateer drivers in mind. Former generations of the GT3 sports car are also eligible to run in the competition, which also features a GT4 category. Each race weekend features multiple practice sessions, two qualifying sessions and two 30-minute sprint races.
“The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup continues to build on the success of its all-privateer concept with a strong focus on driver development. The 2019 calendar features some of the most spectacular race tracks in the Asia-Pacific region. Together with the introduction of the new Audi R8 LMS GT3, we are confident to have put together a competitive programme, which, as always, will be supported by the largest social media and TV brand platform in Asian motorsport,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia.
The all-privateer Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup field will benefit from season-long mentoring from official Audi Sport Asia professional drivers. This is combined with an open data policy, where all data produced from racing, including the practice sessions of the professional driver mentors, is shared between all competitors. Individual coaching sessions add to the creation of a family atmosphere where driver development reigns.
The scheme has been popular in 2018 and saw a marked elevation in lap times across sessions. In addition to the premium Audi Sport VIP lounge at each event, Cup drivers also have the benefit of an exclusive driver lounge with dedicated onsite massage therapists and resting areas. Furthermore, the FIA-licensed series will continue to feature industry-leading technical support from Audi Sport engineers, full parts inventories onsite and experienced, independent adjudication and series management.
Top prizes round out the programme. The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT3 champion will be rewarded with an exclusive, ‘Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup edition’ of the road-going Audi R8. In addition, three fully-funded seats on an Audi Sport customer racing Asia entry for the 2020 Suzuka 10 Hours are on offer, which will be awarded to the top GT3 points-scorers across (1) the Australian and Malaysian rounds combined, (2) the four races in China, and (3) the Japan double-header.
In the GT4 category, the 2019 champion will win a seat on an Audi Sport customer racing Asia team for the 2020 edition of the SIC888, Shanghai International Circuit’s showcase 888km endurance race. The GT4 winner will be joined by two Audi Sport professional drivers, creating a powerful Pro/Am line-up. The first and second runners-up in the 2019 GT4 Cup will be rewarded with Audi Driving Experience seats at the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany.
Over the 2019 season, as in previous years, all 10 races will be broadcast live online across official Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup platforms, leading online portals and television channels. So far in 2018, these live race broadcasts have garnered over four million viewers. Each of the five events on the Cup’s 2019 calendar will also have a television highlights show built around it that is broadcast across the world, with a focus on Asia. Broadcasters include Fox Sports, Star Sports, Guangzhou Sports and other sports channels.
As well as this, campaigns, conversations and content around Audi Sport customer racing Asia’s activities in the region will continue to roll out across the Cup’s five social media accounts over the season, which have over 1.1 million followers.
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup is operated by Audi Sport customer racing Asia.
Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup
2019 provisional calendar
Rounds 1&2, March 2-3 Adelaide Street Circuit, Australia
Rounds 3&4, May 4-5 Zhuhai International Circuit, China
Rounds 5&6, June 1-2 Shanghai International Circuit, China
Rounds 7&8, August 23-24 Suzuka Circuit, Japan
Rounds 9&10, November 23-24 Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia