China’s Anthony Liu took an emphatic victory in round five of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup at the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit, becoming the fifth different race-winner in as many races at the halfway point of the season. Starting from pole, the Absolute Racing driver briefly lost the lead at the start of the race but quickly stormed back to the front of the pack to lead home title contender Alex Au of CTVS Racers by Absolute and reigning Cup champion Andrew Haryanto of Absolute Racing.
Italian Angela Negro impressed on his Cup debut, taking the Challenger Trophy win and crossing the line fourth overall in his first-ever race in an Audi R8 LMS GT3 after getting by championship leader Yasser Shahin of the Bend Motorsport Park on the final lap of the race.
FEA’s Sheng Yanwen made sure there was a Chinese race winner across both the GT3 and GT4 Cups in Shanghai, earning his maiden GT4 Cup win to put himself firmly in the category’s championship mix.
“Congratulations to Anthony Liu, Angelo Negro and Sheng Yanwen on their wins today,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Shanghai is the home of the Chinese motorsport and of the Cup, so it’s fitting to see two Chinese drivers on the top step of the podium today.”
Shahin’s fifth place finish strengthens his lead at the top of the overall championship leaderboard. The Australian’s 80-point tally sees him 30 points clear of closest challenger and fellow countryman Tony Bates of Tony Bates Racing, seventh across the line on his Shanghai debut having felt under the weather all weekend. Bates sits one point ahead of Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing’s Bhurit Bhirombhakdi (49 points), sixth in round five, with Au just one point further back (48 points).
In the race to secure the first seat in next season’s Suzuka 10 Hours in the Road to Suzuka programme, the combined points from last month’s Zhuhai rounds and the first Shanghai race sees Shahin inch ahead of Bhirombhakdi by just two points.
In the GT4 Cup standings, Li Lin and Mark Williamson are tied at the top on 45 points apiece, with Grid Motorsport’s Tommy Chan and reigning champion Anderson Tanoto both on 43 points. However, Sheng’s Shanghai win, added to his podium finish in Zhuhai, earn him 41 points.
Making his first Cup appearance this season, Liu was carrying 20kg of ballast as he lined up on pole position with ballast-free Au alongside, with Haryanto and Negro behind. However, as the lights went out Liu was caught napping and was swamped by the charging pack, dropping him down to fourth. In a lightning recovery though, he was quickly back up to second before retaking the lead with a jaw-dropping move on Au around the outside at turn eight.
Liu immediately began pulling away, creating an unassailable lead and crossing the line after 15 laps with a substantial margin. Au, meanwhile, kept his sights firmly on the championship and settled for second after defending late-race pressure from Haryanto.
Negro, starting his first race in an Audi R8 LMS GT3, had started in fourth, but lost places at the start, only to fight his way back through the midfield to be running fifth. With just six minutes remaining of the 30-minute-plus-one-lap race, Negro had closed up to Shahin, who had got past the Italian at the start of the race. Shahin responded to the attack by upping the pace, but couldn’t shake the determined Italian. Coming out of turn 16 on the penultimate lap, Negro lined up his move and executed it masterfully, powering alongside and past Shahin on the home straight and making the move stick at the first corner of the final lap.
Negro pulled away and crossed the line fourth, to take the Challenger Trophy win. Shahin followed behind in fifth, extending his championship lead in the process.
Further down the order, Sun Jingzu dropped away at the start after an incident on the first lap. The Chinese driver had to work hard from 10th, but proceeded to push through the midfield after an intense, three-way battle for position with Ensport Motors by Absolute Racing’s Vincent Floirendo and Zun Motorsport Crew’s Ma Ka Chun. Sun eventually crossed the line eighth ahead of Ma and Floirendo, who were classified second and third in the Challenger class respectively.
Up ahead, Bhirombhakdi had recovered after a difficult start and was on the move again having hunted down Shanghai rookie Bates. Despite being on an unfamiliar track, Bates resisted, the pair bumping doors before the Thai driver made the move stick, moving past the Australian and into sixth, where he stayed until the chequered flag was waved.
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup embarks upon the second half of its 10-race season with qualifying for round six beginning on Sunday, June 2 at 09:05, with the race getting underway at 15:00 (all times UTC +8).
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup is operated by Audi Sport customer racing Asia.
Anthony Liu (Absolute Racing) – winner round five
“I was still looking at [Au’s] car when the lights went out and I was thinking, ‘is there a green coming?’, and then ‘OK, I can go!’. Then I saw everyone started swarming, so I just went. I took one place back at the left hander down the hill, and overtook another car. I started following Alex [Au] and I saw he over-braked at turn six, so I thought maybe I can get a run down later one. By turn seven, I saw his tyres are not ready so I thought I could go around turn eight and make it safe for the both of us.”
Alex Au (CTVS Racers by Absolute) – 2nd round five
“The start was quite good. When Anthony didn’t make a good start I thought, ‘OK, well trouble may come later!’ Sure enough, after two corners he was behind me. I think my tyres were ready but I was spending a lot of time looking in the mirrors. Anthony [Liu] made a very safe pass at turn eight. It’s a move that I sometimes I do on other people, so I know how that works. Andrew [Haryanto] was a little too close for comfort and I had to defend a couple of times. I looked in the mirror – he was very big, many times!”
Andrew Haryanto (Absolute Racing) – 3rd round five
“At the start, Anthony [Liu] didn’t get the best of starts. From there on, I had a bit of a nudge with Yasser [Shahin] at the first corner. The rest was pretty straight forward. I just tried to follow Alex [Au]. By the fifth lap, I couldn’t see the lights on Anthony’s car any more. I have a lot to learn!”
Sheng Yanwen (FEA) – winner GT4 Cup round five
“I’ve improved my lap times this weekend, so I tried to improve them in the race also. In the first lap, three or four cars spun. I saw that and was a bit shocked by that. I lost something and couldn’t drive like I had in the morning. I don’t think my lap times were very good, but it was good experience.”
Angelo Negro (Absolute Racing) – Challenger Trophy winner
“At turn three I managed to get behind Yasser [Shahin], who gave me a really hard time the entire race. I tried to overtake Yasser a few times, but he is much more experienced in the Cup than me. I realised the only chance I had was where there is a long straight to exit as fast as I could. I saw him start worrying about it, try to change the line and closing. I took a bit of advantage of that and managed to take the last chance to overtake on the last lap. He wasn’t expecting me to pass on the outside. I tried and it worked.”
Round five results
1. 37/Anthony LIU(CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/32:16.9
2. 178/Alex AU(HKG)/GT3/CTVS Racers by Absolute/+25.724
3. 28/Andrew HARYANTO(INA)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+30.381
4. 48/Angelo NEGRO(ITA)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+44.787
5. 7/Yasser SHAHIN(AUS)/GT3/The BEND – Motorsport Park/+45.780
6. 59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI(THA)/GT3/Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing/+57.522
7. 24/Tony BATES(AUS)/GT3/Tony Bates Racing/+1:08.6
8. 13/SUN Jingzu(CHN/GT3/Absolute Racing/+1:09.9
9. 77/MA Ka Chun(HKG)/GT3-CT/Zun Motorsport Crew/+1:29.9
10. 55/Vincent FLOIRENDO(PHI)/GT3-CT/Ensport Motors by Absolute Racing/+1:43.3
11. 777/LIN Yiming(CHN)/GT3-CT/Zun Motorsport Crew/+1:52.2
12. 6/SHENG Yanwen(CHN)/GT4/FEA/+1 Lap
13. 18/WANG Dengjia(CHN)/GT4/FEA/+1 Lap
Fastest lap: Anthony Liu/Absolute Racing/2:07.848/153.4 km/h/Lap 3
Championship Points after round five
Audi Sport R8 LMS GT3 Cup Classification after round five (top 10)
1. Yasser SHAHIN/80
2. Tony BATES/50
3. Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI/49
4. Alex AU/48
5. Daniel BILSKI/48
6. Geoff EMERY/41
7. Andrew HARYANTO/39
8. Vincent FLOIRENDO/31
9. Anthony LIU/26
10. SUN Jingzu/22
Audi Sport R8 LMS GT4 Cup Classification after round five (top 5)
1. LI Lin/45
2. Mark WILLIAMSON/45
3. CHAN Hung Wai/43
4. Anderson TANOTO/43
5. SHENG Yanwen/41
Audi Sport R8 LMS Challenger Cup classification after round five (top 3)
1. Vincent FLOIRINDO/31
2. MA Ka Chun/19
3. Angelo NEGRO/12