Yasser Shahin is the 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup champion as the world’s first and only one-make series for full-spec GT3 cars took a final bow at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit today. The Bend Motorsport Park driver kept his cool in the searing heat, his fifth-place finish in round 10 enough to secure him the title. Ensport Motors by Absolute Racing’s Vincent Floirendo took the Challenger Trophy championship on his memorable return to motorsport, while China’s Sheng Yanwen took the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT4 title for his FEA team.
Winner of the historic 90th and final Cup race was 2018 champion Andrew Haryanto. The Indonesian Absolute Racing driver had been in title contention right up until the penultimate round, and made sure he stamped his authority on the finale with a wheel-perfect performance to cross the line more than 12 seconds ahead of second-place finisher and championship runner-up Alex Au of CTVS Racers by Absolute.
Third across the line was 2019 Thailand Super AM champion and former Cup title winner Daniel Bilski of B-Quik Racing having prevailed in an epic late-race joust with Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing’s Bhurit Bhirombhakdi.
“We close the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup chapter as it began in 2012, with every driver fighting hard and fair all the way to the flag” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Congratulations to our champions Yasser Shahin, Vincent Floirendo and Sheng Yanwen, and our thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of the Cup over the last eight seasons. We set out to support the development of the GT segment in Asia. Today, we have Audi teams and drivers in championships all over the region. Now we look forward to opening an exciting new chapter with the Audi Sport Asia Trophy in 2020.”
At the end of the five-event, 10-race season, Shahin was crowned GT3 champion having earned 143 points, with runner-up Au 10 points behind on 133. Third was Haryanto, just one point behind Au, with Bhirombhakdi (109), and Tony Bates of Tony Bates Racing (82) rounding out the top five.
In addition to taking the title, Shahin’s accumulated points over the season-opening Adelaide rounds and the Malaysia weekend saw him book his seat on the the Audi Sport Asia entry in the 2020 Suzuka 10 Hours, where he will join Haryanto and China’s Anthony Liu for the blue riband endurance race. The Australian also collects the keys to a bespoke Audi R8 road car as one of his rewards for taking the coveted title.
From next season, Audi customer entries in Asia will score points in various regional series for the new Audi Sport Asia Trophy.
With the wet conditions of Saturday night replaced by blazing sunshine, the morning’s qualifying session saw Andrew Haryanto secure pole position with a masterful lap – a second quicker than the rest of the field, and title contender Alex Au booking his seat alongside for the start of round 10. Behind them, Yasser Shahin, Bhurit Bhirombhakdi, Daniel Bilski and Tony Bates made a fearsome line-up, all equally determined to leave their mark on Asian motorsport history.
An issue in qualifying for Vincent Floirendo saw him start from the back of the pack, but this was to prove no handicap to the shrewd, quick privateer.
As the lights went out for the final time, Au was quickly side-by-side with pole-sitter Haryanto, with Shahin keeping a watching brief over the pair. Au and Haryanto briefly made contact before the Indonesian broke free and headed off for victory.
Au immediately came under fire from Bhirombhakdi who had got past Shahin, with Shahin taking no risks and keeping his eyes firmly on the main prize. Bilski was running fifth, while Floirendo had charged through the pack from the rear of the grid and was already up to sixth ahead of Bates.
By the end of the opening lap, Haryanto had pulled a gap of almost 3.5 seconds from the battling field, but it was all for nothing when the safety car was called out after defending GT4 Cup champion Anderson Tanoto was side-lined with a puncture.
Tanoto’s retirement gave Sheng Yanwen an unassailable points advantage, seeing him crowned the 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT4 champion.
Haryanto expertly controlled the restart, enabling him to once again rocket into the distance. As Au tried to follow, Bhirombhakdi had other ideas and mounted a spirited attack. However, an error saw the Thai open the door momentarily to Shahin, who tried to move round the outside, but Bhirombhakdi just as quickly slammed the door shut and Shahin lost a place in the melee to the ever-watchful Bilski, who was now up to fourth.
Haryanto increased his advantage at the front, making a championship win look less and less likely for Au, who needed to win the race and hope other results went his way. Just behind, Bilski closed up to and got alongside Bhirombhakdi, making the move stick and moving up to third.
For Au, the respite was brief, and in no time Bilski was looming large in his mirrors. The final laps of the final race featured a white-knuckle battle between the pair, and Bhirombhakdi joining the party in the closing seconds before the flag.
As the flag fell for the final time though, it was a triumphant Haryanto who took the win from Au, Bilski and Bhirombhakdi. Shahin’s fifth place was enough to secure him the title, and fellow countryman Bates followed him across the line having got by Floirendo in the closing laps. George Nakas finished eighth ahead of Cup newcomer Paul Kanjanapas.
Following newly-crowned GT4 Cup champion Sheng over the line was FEA team mate Zhang Dongqi.
While the sun may have set on the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup, an exciting new chapter begins for Audi Sport customer racing Asia in 2020, with increased customer support across all the region’s leading championships and the introduction of the Audi Sport Asia Trophy, as the brand with the four rings doubles down on its presence across the race tracks of Asia.
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup is operated by Audi Sport customer racing Asia.
Yasser Shahin (The Bend – Motorsport Park) – 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup champion
“It hasn’t sunk it yet, but it will shortly. It feels fantastic to be champion. The truth is, they’re all exceptional drivers. We’re all gentleman drivers but the standards, I can say that from wherever I’ve driven, the pace isn’t what it is here. As Daniel [Bilski] said yesterday, the pace just keeps getting faster. I drove my heart out yesterday to put myself in a position where I could be comfortable today and it paid off.”
Vincent Floirendo (Ensport Motors by Absolute Racing) – 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup Challenger Trophy champion
“The whole season was good for me. It was a big learning curve. I think I’m improving. Today’s race, I started at the back. Once I saw the lights went off, then I stuck on the inside like a big old freight train into the first corner. At turn 12, Tony [Bates] made a mistake so I passed him. I tried to hold him off until the last two laps, but physically I was sweating as it was really hot in the car, so I had to back off.”
Sheng Yanwen (FEA) – 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT4 champion
“It’s good to win a championship! It’s an honour to grow up with the Cup, so thank you everyone. It’s been a great time.”
Results round 10
1. 28/Andrew HARYANTO(INA)/GT3/Absolute Racing/33:38.852
2. 178/Alex AU(HKG)/GT3/CTVS Racers by Absolute/+12.204
3. 27/Daniel BILSKI(HKG)/GT3/B-Quik Racing/+12.893
4. 59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI(THA)/GT3/Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing/+14.037
5. 7/Yasser SHAHIN(AUS)/GT3/The BEND – Motorsport Park/+25.084
6. 24/Tony BATES(AUS)/GT3/Tony Bates Racing/26.953
7. 55/Vincent FLOIRENDO(PHI)/GT3-CT/Ensport Motors by Absolute Racing/+33.968
8. 14/George NAKAS(AUS)/GT3-CT/Absolute Racing/+1:19.550
9. 60/Paul KANJANAPAS(THA)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+1:30.108
10. 6/SHENG Yanwen(CHN)/GT4/FEA/14 Laps
11. 88.ZHANG Dongqi(CHN)/GT4/FEA/13 Laps
DNF. 89/Anderson TANOTO(INA)/GT4/Absolute Racing
DNF. 26/Henk KIKS(THA)/GT3/B-Quik Racing
Fastest lap: Andrew Haryanto/Absolute Racing/2:07.484/Lap five
Championship Points after round 10
Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT3 Classification after round 10 (top 10)
1. Yasser SHAHIN/143
2. Alex AU/133
3. Andrew HARYANTO/132
4. Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI/109
5. Tony BATES/82
6. Daniel BILSKI/78
7. Vincent FLOIRENDO/69
8. Anthony LIU/52
9. Geoff EMERY/41
10. SUN Jingzu/34
Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT4 Classification after round 10 (top 5)
1. SHENG Yanwen/110
2. Anderson TANOTO/70
3. WANG Dengjia/54
4. Shozo TAGAHARA/52
5. LI Lin/45
Audi Sport R8 LMS Challenger Trophy classification after round 10 (top5)
1. Vincent FLOIRINDO/69
2. Angelo NEGRO/27
3. MA Ka Chun/26
4. George NAKAS/20
5. LIN Yiming/12