After 10 grueling races at five race tracks across four countries, the Audi R8 LMS Cup’s Heroes Night was cause for celebration. Honoring its champions as well as all the 2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup drivers, teams and partners, a dazzling awards night rounded out the season finale at China’s impressive new Zhejiang International Circuit on 8 October.
“We congratulate our champions on their Audi R8 LMS Cup success, and our thanks to all our drivers, teams and partners for giving us such an exciting season,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “As the world’s premier GT3 brand Cup, we have once again produced a season packed with exceptional motorsport competition run to the very highest standards. We look forward to 2018, and the seventh season of the Audi R8 LMS Cup.”
Taking four wins and two podium finishes on his way to the championship, 24-year-old Belgian Alessio Picariello (picture, top) clinched the overall title in Shanghai in September, and in doing so earned the Team Cup for MGT by Absolute. To cap off what has been a stellar season for the driver dubbed the ‘Belgian Bullet’, Picariello also secured the Pirelli Best Lap Trophy, setting five fastest laps in ten races.
Second in the title chase was OD Racing Team’s Mitch Gilbert, the Malaysian-born 23-year-old keeping his eye on the main prize as the battle for points and the runner-up position went right down to the wire in Round 10. FAW-VW Audi Racing Team’s Cheng Congfu of China finished the season third overall, scoring a memorable victory at the Cup’s debut at the iconic Suzuka Circuit in Japan. Three-time Cup champion Alex Yoong finished fourth ahead of Audi TEDA Racing Team’s Shaun Thong, the 21-year-old experiencing a rollercoaster season’s end with a second place in the penultimate round at Zhejiang.
Young Estonian talent Martin Rump of Champion Racing Team suffered more than his share of ill-luck throughout the year meaning he was unable to show his true pace. He finished ahead of Audi Hong Kong’s Marchy Lee, the Cup’s first champion in 2012, who contested a partial season in 2017. Team Audi Korea’s Kyong-Ouk You had a challenging season, but never lost his passion. The cheerful Korean received a “Special Driver Award” at the gala in Zhejiang for completing his fifth straight season with the Cup.
In the Am+ Cup, David Chen of the Tianshi Racing Team proved the revelation of the season. Joining the Cup from Round 3 with only half a season of GT racing under his belt, the 21-year-old Chinese sensation took six class wins and two podium finishes in the eight races he contested to sweep to the title.
The lowest class. the Am Cup, saw Thailand’s Bhurit Bhirombhakdi take the title for Singha Plan-B Motorsport with five victories during the season, ahead of China’s Sun Jingzu of Milestone Racing and Rick Yoon of KCMG.
Edited: Audi R8 LMS Cup