China’s Anthony Liu once again proved unbeatable on his home track, storming to his second consecutive victory from pole in round six of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup at the Shanghai International Circuit in front of packed grandstands. The Absolute Racing driver’s maximum points haul from two wins and two pole positions secures him the first seat on the Audi Sport Asia team at the 2020 Suzuka 10 Hours via the Cup’s Road to Suzuka programme.
In what was a tumultuous 15-lap sprint, Alex Au of CTVS Racers by Absolute completed a strong weekend with another second-place finish, closing the gap to championship leader Yasser Shahin of The Bend Motorsport Park. Audi R8 LMS GT3 newcomer Angelo Negro, meanwhile, completed a superb debut with a podium finish and his second Challenger Trophy win of the weekend.
In the GT4 class, it was a weekend to remember too for FEA’s Sheng Yanwen, who took his second win in round six.
“Our congratulations to Anthony Liu. We have a hugely competitive field and he didn’t put a foot wrong to win in such comprehensive fashion,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Today saw thousands of people fill the grandstands at the Cup’s homecoming race weekend in Shanghai, and the crowds had lots to be excited about with Chinese drivers becoming the first double victors of the season in both the Audi R8 LMS GT3 and GT4 categories.”
Sun Jingzu crossed the line fifth after getting by series champion and Absolute Racing teammate Andrew Haryanto on the last lap. Zun Motorsport Crew’s Ma Ka Chun was seventh, Ensport Motors by Absolute Racing’s Vincent Floirendo was eighth and Tony Bates of Tony Bates Racing was ninth after a tough outing.
Despite a challenging race for Shahin, which saw The Bend Motorsport Park driver sustain damage in two early-race contacts with Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing’s Bhurit Bhirombhakdi, he remains at the top of the overall championship leaderboard on 81 points. However, Au’s two second place finishes see the CTVS Racers by Absolute driver (66 points) close the gap to just 15 points with four races remaining. Tony Bates completes the top three (54 points).
A second GT4 Cup victory for FEA’s Sheng Yanwen propels him to the top of the category leaderboard with 67 points. He finished ahead of teammate Zhang Dongqi, who was delighted to take a GT4 podium finish on his debut Cup weekend.
Liu was carrying 30 kilogrammes of success ballast courtesy of his round five win as he lined up on pole, with Au, carrying 20kg, alongside. Caught napping at the start of Saturday’s race, Liu didn’t make the same mistake again and was away like lightning as the lights went out. Au tried a move on the outside, but Liu was untouchable, ploughing into the lead and immediately pulling out an advantage at the front of the field followed by Negro, who got by Au and up to second after a strong getaway.
Behind the leading trio Haryanto was on the outside of Bhirombhakdi and Shahin, three abreast into turn one. Bhirombhakdi and Shahin lost out in the opening lap melee after a coming together, while Australian Bates was on the move from a P8 start and up to fourth, with Haryanto in hot pursuit.
More drama on the opening lap saw Bhirombhakdi and Shahin make contact for a second time, the pair stationary after being turned around on track before each managed to rejoin at the rear of the field. Bhirombhakdi was later disqualified for his culpability in both incidents, while Shahin was forced to make a protracted pit stop before rejoining.
Back at the front, lap two saw Au pounce when Negro made an error, snatching back second place which he would hold to the flag. Behind Negro, Bates was coming under fire from Haryanto, before the he managed to pull clear and set his sights on catching Negro up ahead. Haryanto wasn’t done however, and as Bates tried manfully to catch Negro, Haryanto kept him firmly within range.
With just seven minutes left on the clock, Bates had closed to within 1.5 seconds of Negro, but was suddenly hit by a technical issue and swamped by Haryanto who ploughed past and up to fourth, the Australian then falling into the clutches of first Sun, then Zun Motorsport Crew’s Ma Ka Chun and finally Vincent Floirendo, before coming to a halt on track on the final lap. However, there was more drama to come before the flag when the last lap saw Haryanto spin on the slippery surface, opening the door for Sun to get by and claim fourth.
Ma crossed the line sixth, collecting eight championship points, ahead of Floirendo, with Bates classified in eighth place following Bhirombhakdi’s disqualification, ahead of Zun Motorsport Crew’s Lin Yiming.
The 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup resumes after a short summer break when the field takes on the mighty Suzuka Circuit in Japan for rounds seven and eight, held alongside the global Audi Sport family as part of the Suzuka 10 Hours weekend. The Cup made its debut at the 5.807km circuit in 2017, where the famous configuration – the roller coaster esses, Degner corners, exhilarating 130R, Spoon Curve and Hairpin – threw up several surprises. The only figure of eight track on the Formula 1 calendar, Suzuka is a challenge every driver looks forward to.
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup is operated by Audi Sport customer racing Asia.
Anthony Liu (Absolute Racing) – winner round six
“I’m very happy! It was a little bit slippery out there today, but the race went smoothly for me. Thank you to Absolute again, and thank you to Audi.”
Alex Au (CTVS Racers by Absolute) – 2nd round six
“With Anthony driving this weekend, this was the maximum I could do. I’m still very happy. It’s very good for the championship. If I manage to get another Suzuka 10 Hours seat later in the season, Anthony’s really quick and it would be really good to race with him.”
Angelo Negro (Absolute Racing) – 3rd round six and Challenger Trophy winner
“I was happy today in qualifying, especially when I was quite surprised to be P2 at one point. Alex [Au] managed to overtake me in the last minutes of the qualifying, but I deserved it as I made a mistake. The start was quite good today. I was second for a few laps until I made a mistake and went a bit wide at turn one and Alex could overtake me. That mistake ruined my back tyres, so I had to take it easy and control people behind. It was really hard to get back to following Alex. All in all, it was a good weekend. I wasn’t expecting this kind of performance and this result. The car is fantastic and I’m really happy to have the chance to drive it for the first time.”
Sheng Yanwen (FEA) – winner GT4 round six
“I’m happy to be racing the Audi R8 LMS GT4 and making a lot of improvements to myself and having a lot of fun in the race.”
Round six results
1. 37/Anthony LIU(CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/32:20.681
2. 178/Alex AU(HKG)/GT3/CTVS Racers by Absolute/+24.799
3. 48/Angelo NEGRO(ITA)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+40.810
4. 13/SUN Jingzu(CHN/GT3/Absolute Racing/+44.070
5. 28/Andrew HARYANTO(INA)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+48.547
6. 77/MA Ka Chun(HKG)/GT3-CT/Zun Motorsport Crew/+1:11.737
7. 55/Vincent FLOIRENDO(PHI)/GT3-CT/Ensport Motors by Absolute Racing/+1:13.899
8. 24/Tony BATES(AUS)/GT3/Tony Bates Racing/+1 Lap
9. 777/LIN Yiming(CHN)/GT3-CT/Zun Motorsport Crew/+ 1 Lap
10. 6/SHENG Yanwen(CHN)/GT4/FEA/+ 1 Lap
11. 7/Yasser SHAHIN(AUS)/GT3/The BEND – Motorsport Park/+ 2 Laps
12. 88/ZHANG Dongqi(CHN)/GT4/FEA/+ 2 Laps
DSQ. 59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI(THA)/GT3/Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing
Fastest lap: Anthony Liu/Absolute Racing/2:08.271/152.9km/h
Championship Points after round six
Audi Sport R8 LMS GT3 Cup Classification after round six (Top 10)
1. Yasser SHAHIN/81
2. Alex AU/66
3. Tony BATES/54
4. Anthony LIU/52
5. Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI/49
6. Andrew HARYANTO/49
7. Daniel BILSKI/48
8. Geoff EMERY/41
9. Vincent FLOIRENDO/37
10. SUN Jingzu/34
Audi Sport R8 LMS GT4 Cup Classification after round six (Top five)
1. SHENG Yanwen/67
2. LI Lin/45
3. Mark WILLIAMSON/45
4. CHAN Hung Wai/43
5. Anderson TANOTO/43
Audi Sport R8 LMS Challenger Cup classification after round 6
1. Vincent FLOIRINDO/37
2. Angelo NEGRO/27
3. MA Ka Chun/26