ProMax Team’s Andrew Haryanto was crowned the 2018 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup champion after a dramatic season finale at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit. The Indonesian’s victory in round 10 secured him the title by just five points from rival Bhurit Bhirombhakdi of Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing. Third in the final standings was Yasser Shahin of The Bend Motorsport Park, after crossing the line fourth in round 10 despite carrying 40kg of success ballast. Completing the podium in round 10 was pole-sitter Jeffrey Lee of Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan, his impressive haul of 28 points over the Malaysian weekend securing the final “Road to Spa” seat.
“It has been a fitting finale to an exciting season, our congratulations go to Andrew Haryanto, our 2018 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup champion,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “The growth of our all-amateur line-up over the season has been a joy to watch, with lots of tension, emotion and drama.”
After 10 hard-fought rounds across Australia, Germany, China and Malaysia, the final points standings saw Haryanto crowned champion (186 points), with season-long adversary Bhirombhakdi runner-up (181), and Shahin third (133). Along with his championship crown, Haryanto also wins an exclusive, bespoke, gold-liveried Audi R8 road car.
After a strong weekend which saw him collect 28 championship points, Lee finished fifth overall behind Sun Jingzu of Absolute Racing. As the highest points-scorer at the Sepang double-header, Lee joins Haryanto, Bhirombhakdi and Shahin on the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup team at the 2019 24 Hours of Spa – a reward on offer to the highest-points scorer at each country on the Cup’s 2018 calendar.
The 2018 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT4 Cup champion is Anderson Tanoto of Absolute Racing, previously crowned at the Shanghai race weekend, likewise the GTC Cup champion for 2018, Jeffrey Zee of Spirit Z Racing.
With just two points separating the championship contenders Bhirombhakdi and Haryanto, the final race of the season got underway for an action-packed first lap of racing. Lee got away well from pole but Bhirombhakdi, carrying 10kg of success ballast, was immediately alongside. However, it was Absolute Racing’s Sun Jingzu who made the best getaway, diving on the inside and getting by Bhirombhakdi and looking to grab the lead from Lee. Lee firmly slammed the door, however, and led the field from Bhirombhakdi, Haryanto, who was carrying 30kg success ballast, and Sun, who had dropped to fourth.
An early drama involving Cup newcomer, Malaysia’s Zen Low of Axle Motorsport, and Anderson Tanoto, making his GT3 debut this weekend, saw the pair make contact and spin, but both managed to rejoin the race.
Meanwhile, Lee was pulling away at the front of the field as a title battle of truly epic proportions was developing behind him. Both Haryanto and Bhirombhakdi were fully aware that whoever finished in front of the other in round 10 would be crowned champion. Pulling alongside Bhirombhakdi, Haryanto made a move to go second at the final hairpin of the F1-grade circuit. It would prove to be a decisive one, with the pressure now on Bhirombhakdi to get by his rival to reclaim the overall series lead.
Behind the leading trio, Sun was manfully holding off a hard-charging Shahin, with Absolute Racing’s Martin Berry tucked in behind the Australian and B-Quik Racing’s Daniel Bilski very much in the mix.
Mid-way through the 13-lap thriller, Berry made a move on Sun, who had been passed by Shahin, but clipped the Chinese driver in the process, spinning on track before continuing.
Up ahead, Lee had lost some time negotiating patchy wet areas of the track, allowing the battling championship rivals to close right up on him. Lights flashing, Haryanto made a brave move on Lee in a bid to put a buffer between himself and Bhirombhakdi. The Thai tried to follow, going up the inside of Lee, who got a better exit. A white-knuckle, two abreast drag race down the straight saw Bhirombhakdi emerge the winner, slamming the door on Lee. While Lee attempted to fight back, the Thai had the title in his sights and set off again on the hunt for Haryanto.
With four laps remaining, the battling pair ran wide at the exit, but Bhirombhakdi came off worse after putting all four wheels on the grass, spinning back onto the track. He managed to keep the Audi R8 LMS GT3 under control, wrestling the car back into a straight line. However, the error had given Lee the chance to dive back up to second behind Haryanto, and Bhirombhakdi’s frustration was palpable.
However, the Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing driver recovered quickly, diving past Lee once more to reclaim second. A valiant final push from the committed privateer was ultimately in vain, as Haryanto took the flag for his third win of the season and the championship prize.
Sun crossed the line in fourth behind Shahin and ahead of Bilski, Yoon, Berry and Bilski’s B-Quik Racing teammate and Cup newcomer Henk Kiks in ninth.
The eighth season of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup gets underway at the Adelaide 500 in early March 2019, the championship returning to an event which saw more than 200,000 fans flock to the street circuit earlier this year. From there, the Cup returns to its roots in China with stops at the Zhuhai International Circuit and at the home of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix in Shanghai. Japan’s iconic Suzuka Circuit returns to the calendar in 2019, with two races in support of the Suzuka 10 Hours. The grand finale will once again be played out at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit.
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup is operated by Audi Sport customer racing Asia.
Quotes after round 10:
Andrew Haryanto (ProMax Team) – round 10 winner / 2018 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup champion
“I would like thank my family who gave me the racing visa and all the support! The win was just luck again. Just like the first race in Adelaide. Coming in to this weekend, I just focussed on my own driving and didn’t think about anything else. It worked out pretty well.
“After I passed Bhurit, I knew I had 20kg [success ballast] more but he had practice tyres on. At the faster part of the track, I thought I’d be faster but then somehow, he found immense grip and started to catch me. I think we just went too fast on turn 13. I went a bit out and he went a bit further out. Otherwise it would have been a nightmare for me.”
Bhurit Bhirombhakdi (Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing) – 2nd round 10 / 2018 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup runner-up
“I don’t feel regret at all. I tried my best and you don’t have regrets if you try your best. Whatever the outcome, we’re family. I’m happy for Andrew. I told him, he’s very fast. I’m just trying. So, I congratulate him, thanks for everything.”
Jeffrey Lee (Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan) – 3rd round 10
“The pace was good today, but I was in the middle of these two championship fighters so I had to be super-careful. I didn’t want to cause any problems for them. Yesterday was tough because I was really unlucky and had a crash, but today, we had pole position and were leading the race. I was a bit disappointed when I lost some pace. The circuit was a little bit damp in corners seven and eight, and when I saw [Haryanto], I thought OK, there was no point to hold him up. And Bhurit, I had a bit of fun with him but it was also on the limit so yes, I enjoyed the race.”
Round 10 results
1.28/Andrew HARYANTO(INA)/GT3/ProMax Team/28:03.772
2.59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI(THA)/GT3/Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing/+2.802
3.7/Jeffrey LEE(TPE)/GT3/Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan/+6.974
4.74/Yasser SHAHIN(AUS)/GT3/The BEND – Motorsport Park/+12.241
5.13/SUN Jing Zu(CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+13.517
6.27/Daniel BILSKI(HKG)/GT3/B-Quik Racing/+13.832
8.15/Martin BERRY(SIN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+22.590
9.26/Henk KIKS(THA)/GT3/B-Quik Racing/+35.868
10.89/Anderson TANOTO(INA)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+48.766
11.29/Zen LOW(MAL)/GT3/Axle Motorsport/+49.427
Fastest lap: Andrew Haryanto/ProMax Team/2:07.338/lap seven
Audi Sport R8 LMS GT3 Cup classification after round 10
1. Andrew HARYANTO/186
2. Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI/181
3. Yasser SHAHIN/133
4. SUN Jing Zu/116
5. Jeffrey LEE/81
6. Alex AU/34
7. Theo KOUNDOURIS/30
8. Carsten TILKE/30
10. BAO Jin Long/20
11. YANG Xi/20
12. Daniel BILSKI/20
13. Dirg PARHOFER/16
14. Martin BERRY/14
15. Bernhard HENZEL/14
16. Rick YOON/14
17. Mark WILLIAMSON/14
18. James KOUNDOURIS/12
19. Steve McLAUGHLAN/11
20. Marc CINI/10
21. LI Xue Feng/8
22. TIAN Li Ying/6
23. Berthold GRUHN/6
24. Henk KIKS/4
25. Anderson TANOTO/1
26. Zen LOW/1
Audi Sport R8 LMS GT4 Cup classification after round 10
1. Anderson TANOTO/113
2. Ryan LIU/52
4. Carlos CHECA/37
5. HAN Geng/36
6. Sam LOK/30
7. Jean-Luc WEIDT/25
8. ZHANG Ran/24
9. WANG Deng Jia/12
10. SHENG Yan Wen/12
Audi Sport R8 LMS GTC Cup classification after round 10
1. Jeffrey ZEE/103
2. Jacky WU/37