The official Audi R8 LMS Cup entry reached the podium in Round 7 of the GT Asia Series, with the pairing of Shanghai-based Swiss Alexandre Imperatori and Jeffrey Lee of Chinese Taipei earning some crucial championship points in the two races at Suzuka Circuit.
With regular partner Marchy Lee of Hong Kong away in Inner Mongolia for Rounds 7&8 of the Audi R8 LMS Cup in Ordos, exciting young talent Imperatori was drafted in to partner Lee as the two flew the flag for the Audi R8 LMS Cup in Suzuka.
Qualifying got the weekend off to a strong start, with Imperatori recording the second fastest time of the first qualifying session in his Audi R8 LMS Cup ultra. Lee put in a strong performance in the second qualifying session, resulting in the team starting from the fourth row for the second race of the weekend.
With a third-place finish in Round 7 and a fifth-place finish in Round 8, Lee is now third in the championship standings, 19 points out of second place.
Imperatori started Round 7 from second on the grid and set off to catch the race leader and, in the process, set what would be the fastest lap of the weekend – a 2:05.390 – showing the speed and the benefits of Audi lightweight technology.
After 10 laps, Lee took over driving duties and when the race leader got stuck in the gravel, Lee moved into the lead with six laps remaining.
Lee fended off the competition and kept the field at bay, but unfortunately on the last lap, the second-place driver made an overtaking manoeuvre and touched Lee. Both drivers spun, with Lee recovering to finish third and take the final podium position.
In Round 8, Lee started from seventh, holding his position on the 5.807-km circuit. However, the team’s podium hopes were challenged after a pit lane error resulted in a drive-through penalty.
A determined Imperatori set off to work his way up the grid and made up a few crucial positions, before crossing the finish line fifth.
An ideal platform to showcase Audi lightweight technology against other leading automotive marques, the GT Asia Series is further enhanced by a mandatory pit stop and Balance of Performance success ballast regulations.
Commented Director of Audi Sport customer racing in China, Rene Koneberg: “Although we had a bit of a challenge this weekend in Suzuka, there are also many positives. We were in the lead in Round 7 and only a bit of bad luck cost us the win, and a mega lap by Alexandre Imperatori in Round 7 proved to be the fastest lap of the weekend, showing the speed of the Audi R8 LMS ultra.”
“We’re pleased to have reached the podium in Round 7, although we are also disappointed that we didn’t get the win. Round 8 was a bit more challenging and with the series as competitive as it is, there is no room for error. I’m looking forward to getting back in the Audi R8 LMS ultra and racing in Autopolis next month.”
“Today was not as close as we had hoped. We were definitely in a position to challenge for a podium spot in Round 8, if not for the pit lane penalty. We had a bit of bad luck this weekend. I feel like we could have won in Round 7, but that’s racing for you!”