2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup season opener descends on Sepang Circuit

  The sixth season of Audi R8 LMS Cup championship returns to Sepang Circuit for the opening double rounds. Reigning Champion and home driver Alex Yoong is determined to defend his crown against veterans and newbies alike. Yoong’s main rivals will again be Alessio Picariello and Martin Rump. Former F1 driver Will Stevens starts his first race in Audi’s one and only one-make race in Asia.

Yoong’s main rival Picariello enjoyed a successful debut season last year racing for MGT Team by Absolute driver. He and the team topped the championship on three occasions last season but missed out on the drivers’ trophy after a dramatic season finale in Shanghai to finish second overall.

Another rival Rump of Champion Racing Team was another standout youngster from the Cup’s 2016 season. His four race victories were the most of any driver and the Estonian will be looking to build on his third place overall finish in the season ahead.

Adding to the tussles between youth and experience that played out last season in the Cup will be newbies former Caterham F1 driver Will Stevens and Shaun Thong. Stevens, the former Caterham F1 driver, will certainly add to the talent on display at this year’s Audi R8 LMS Cup. Racing for the Asian arm of the prestigious Belgian team WRT, Stevens has highly impressive credentials, being runner up at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year, is a World Endurance Championship race winner and managed 18 Formula One grand prix starts. Thong, the Young Driver Development Program participant for the Asian platform of Audi, will race a full Cup season for the first time with Audi TE-DA Racing Team. As part of his development process the young Hong Kong native took part in the Audi Sport TT Cup in 2015 as well as being part of the first all-Asian team to enter the Nürburgring 24 Hours for the past two seasons, along
with regular Audi R8 LMS Cup appearances.

Audi R8 LMS Cup champion in 2012, Marchy Lee, will also return this season as part of Team Audi Hong Kong. The co-owner of Cup service provider, Phoenix Racing Asia, is another who has appeared in every season of the sprint series since its launch.

Cheng Congfu will also return in the FAW VW Audi Racing Team car for 2017. The Chinese star closed out a challenging 2016 on a high with a top 10 finish in the FIA GT World Cup in Macau and will be looking to rediscover the form that saw him finish as the Audi R8 LMS Cup runner-up in 2015.

As one of the most exciting sprint races in Asia, this one-make series features the Audi R8 LMS, a GT3 car with more than 200 international race victories. It boasts a V10 engine and a lightweight, aluminium Audi Space Frame (ASF). Since 2016, the R8 LMS Cup has featured the second-generation Audi R8 LMS, which shares around 50 percent of its technical base with the Audi R8 street car.

The Audi R8 LMS Cup is operated by Audi China and is part of the Audi Sport customer racing program.

2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup calendar:

Rounds 1&2 / May 6-7 / Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
Rounds 3&4 / June 10-11 / Suzuka International Racing Course, Japan
Rounds 5&6 / July 15-16 / Korea International Circuit, South Korea
Rounds 7&8 / September 9-10 / Shanghai Audi International Circuit, China