Audi Sport Team Valvoline driver Geoff Emery has won round two of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup on the Adelaide Parklands Street Circuit, propelling him to the top of the GT3 championship leaderboard. Early leader, CTVS Racers by Absolute’s Alex Au, took a hard-earned second after an eventful race ahead of The Bend Motorsport Park’s Yasser Shahin in front of a record Adelaide 500 crowd of 91,500 people.
Meanwhile, there was crushing disappointment for race leader Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing’s Bhurit Bhirombhakdi when an uncharacteristic error saw him retire while leading at the final turn of the penultimate lap of the race.
In the GT4 Cup, this time victory belonged to Indonesian Anderson Tanoto after a race-long battle with category pole-sitter, Absolute Racing teammate and winner of round one, Mark Williamson. Anderson acquitted himself impressively on his debut at the famously-unforgiving street circuit, his improved pace session-on-session rewarded with the win.
After the two opening races to the 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup season, Emery has 41 points at the top of the GT3 classification with fellow Australian and winner of round one, Tony Bates, just three points behind (38 points). Shahin’s two podium finishes this weekend put him third (33 points), ahead of Au (28 points). In the GT4 classification, Williamson leads from Tanoto by two points, courtesy of his two pole positions.
“Our drivers and teams delivered two great races this weekend, in which leads changed hands and fastest laps tumbled, a testament to the closely matched field,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Our congratulations to Geoff Emery today, and to all our Cup drivers and teams for an outstanding weekend in searing heat and on one of the world’s most challenging street circuits in front of thousands of onsite fans.”
When the lights went out, a ballast-free Au got a blinding start and stormed into the lead, squeezing between pole-sitter Emery, who was carrying 10kg success ballast, and front-row starter Shahin, who had 20kg on board. Bhirombhakdi made an equally explosive getaway, rocketing from the third row, diving down the inside and up to second in the opening seconds. Four abreast into the first chicane, it was a dramatic opener to what was to be a nail-biting 20-lap race.
Emery, who had been swamped off the start, recovered quickly, and reclaimed third in the order coming out of turn two on the opening lap.
Andrew Haryanto was another driver on the move, having started from the back of the grid after a penalty in round one. The Indonesian was up to sixth on the opening lap and onto the tail of Sun Jingzu. With Haryanto backing off slightly, Bates came from behind and got a better run into turn eight to snatch the position from Haryanto. Sun then had to defend from the hard-charging Australian, but held his nerve, pounding out quick sector times and resisting intense and unrelenting pressure until finally succumbing midrace.
Up at the front, Bhirombhakdi had reeled in race leader Au at the halfway point, the Thai putting his nose down the inside and the pair side-by-side as they hurtled towards the notorious turn eight. Bhirombhakdi charged into the lead, making contact with Au at the start of the straight. Immediately, Emery pounced, seizing the chance to plough past Au and up to second.
Bhirombhakdi then set about pulling clear of Emery and Au, stretching out a margin of more than a second. Behind the top three, Bates was now all over the back of Shahin having found his way past Sun.
Haryanto, meanwhile, was once again looking to find his way past Sun before getting on the grass at final corner and running wide. He skilfully managed to rejoin the race, but the off had dropped him down the order. The Indonesian was not done however, setting the fastest lap of both the race and the entire weekend in the closing minutes of the race.
Despite the contact with Bhirombhakdi, Au’s pace was undiminished and he was making headway to Emery as the top five closed up in the final few minutes. Out in front though, Bhirombhakdi was maintaining the gap to his challengers, although Emery was never far behind.
With just two minutes remaining on the clock, and with the start/finish line within sight, a momentary lapse saw the race leader run wide on the final turn, and Bhirombhakdi’s race dramatically ended in the barriers.
Just one lap later Emery sailed across the line to take his first Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup victory, ahead of Au, Shahin, Bates and Sun, with Absolute Racing’s Daniel Bilski in sixth.
Reigning Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT4 champion Tanoto took the class win from Williamson, the pair having fought hard and fair right up to the chequered flag. It was an impressive showing from Tanoto as he embarks on his second season in GT vehicles. Fellow GT4 Cup driver Ryan Liu was again unable to take the start after damage caused in an incident in Saturday’s second qualifying session ruled out his car for the weekend’s races but left the driver unhurt.
The 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup season continues on May 4-5, when the championship returns to China’s Greater Bay Area motorsport heartland, the Zhuhai International Circuit, for rounds three and four.
Geoff Emery (Audi Sport Team Valvoline) – Winner round two
“The car was really good when the track gripped up today. I thought I’d got a pretty good start, but the other guys got a better start because they passed me! I knew I had my work cut out, so I just applied maximum pressure to these guys and they fell off one at a time, which was great.”
Alex Au (CTVS Racers by Absolute) – 2nd round two
“I guess I can’t be too sad about [the result], but having led the race with a few seconds lead and then to lose it is a bit disappointing. I was looking forward to a great fight with Geoff, but I was denied that chance.”
Yasser Shahin (The Bend Motorsport Park – 3rd round two
“It was a really exciting race. Like Geoff, I thought I got a cracking start so god knows how somebody jumped in the middle. The pace was extraordinary. I thought I was putting in great laps but I still couldn’t catch them, so they deserve where they ended up. Halfway through the race Batesy (Tony Bates) was catching me, so I just had to pick up the pace and it worked. I caught Alex right at the end but not enough to pass. It was a really exciting race and one of the most physically challenging I’ve ever done.”
Anderson Tanoto (Absolute Racing) – Winner GT4 Cup round two
“This track is beautiful. A street circuit really tests not only your wits and guts, but also your concentration. I think that was obviously the case yesterday when I was leading and I gave it up to Williamson. Today was payback time. I was representing Asia, of course, but not only that, he gave me a hard chase all the way to the end of the last lap. What’s beautiful about the Audi R8 LMS GT4 is that Williamson, who has over 20 years of racing experience, and myself with only two years’ experience, are able to compete on the same level playing field and really push each other. That’s the beauty of this GT4 class, and I welcome many others to come and join us. It’s a lot of fun and the car is mega; it’s super quick.”
Round two results
1.22/Geoff EMERY(AUS)/GT3/Audi Sport Team Valvoline/30:14.1545
2.178/Alex AU(HKG)/GT3/CTVS Racers by Absolute/30:14.457
3. 7/Yasser SHAHIN(AUS)/GT3/The BEND – Motorsport Park/30:17.330
4.24/Tony BATES(AUS)/GT3/Tony Bates Racing/30:19.952
5.13/SUN Jing Zu(CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/30:25.262
6.27/Daniel BILSKI(HKG)/GT3/Absolute Racing/30:37.053
7.28/Andrew HARYANTO(INA)/GT3/Absolute Racing/30:45.457
8.89/Anderson TANOTO(INA)/GT4/Absolute Racing/31:06.762
9. 8/Mark WILLIAMSON(AUS)/GT4/Absolute Racing/31:07.335
DNF.59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI(THA)/GT3/Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing
DNS.666/Ryan LIU(CHN)/GT4/Absolute Racing
Fastest lap: Andrew Haryanto/Absolute Racing/1:21.243
Championship points after round two
Audi Sport R8 LMS GT3 Cup classification after round two
1. Geoff EMERY/41
2. Tony BATES/38
3. Yasser SHAHIN/33
4. Alex AU/28
5. Daniel BILSKI/20
6. SUN Jingzu/18
7. Andrew HARYANTO/6
8. Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI/4
Audi Sport R8 LMS GT4 Cup classification after round two
1. Mark WILLIAMSON/45
2. Anderson TANOTO/43
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup is operated by Audi Sport customer racing Asia.
No comments yet.