- Picariello wins and leads the Cup
- Gilbert gets on the podium and Cheng shows consistency
- Lee triumphs in AM Class
Kuala Lumpur, May 6th, 2017 – Superb start to 2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup season for Absolute Racing, following a fantastic lights to flag victory of Alessio Picariello in the opening race of the weekend at the Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia. The last year first runner up is leading the championship after collecting a win and second place finish in the race weekend of the season.
MGT Team by Absolute’s Picariello blistering weekend started on Saturday’s qualifying as the Belgian driver claimed pole position in both of the weekend’s races. Picariello recorded impressive times of 2:01.342 and 2:00.916 respectively. One Race One he was joined on the front row by newcomer and teammate Mitch Gilbert of OD Racing.
On Race One Picariello cruised to victory at the first round of the year. Off the line pole sitter the MGT by Absolute driver held the advantage well as he led the field in to the first corner. The 23-year-old Belgian was even able to pull a gap in the early stages over those behind and hold the lead without opposition.
Picariello said of victory, “I’m enjoying much more this year. I didn’t drive for six months but I did a lot of preparation out of the track and it paid off. I’m feeling much better driver today.”
Starting from sixth in the grid, FAW-VW Audi Racing Team’s Franky Cheng CongFu also took a strong result coming home in fourth on the challenging 5.543km circuit.
Running well up the order, in a solid second place, OD Racing’s Mitch Gilbert was forced to retire with a broken driveshaft. It was a cruel blow to the talented 26-year-old Australian, born and raised in Malaysia.
Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan’s Jeffrey Lee ended his race prematurely in the gravel on lap 5 after being hit by an opponent.
The Race Two was scheduled for Sunday. Carrying an onerous 50kg of success ballast following victory in Race One, Picariello couldn’t keep his first position at the start. Over the next few laps the positions remained largely the same. The Belgian racer still managed to clock the fastest lap of the day as he finished second to extend his championship lead.
On a relatively uneventful race OD Racing Team’s Mitch Gilbert started third and came home in third in his second ever Cup race.
“I am very happy to have finished in third. After the breaking down yesterday from a comfortable second-place, everyone at OD Racing bounced back and we finished third. I’m happy to prove we are one of the top cars of the Audi R8 LMS Cup and spray some champagne in the podium”, said Gilbert.
FAW-VW Audi Racing Team driver Cheng Congfu showed consistent pace throughout the weekend’s two races and replicated Saturday’s result on Sunday. He sits fourth in the points’ standings.
Further down the field, Jeffrey Lee took a clear on-track win in the Am+ category.
Team Director, Ingo Matter said, “One win and a second- and third-place finish is a great way to start the championship. Hopefully this is the beginning of a very good season. Alessio is in his best form and he is a genuine title contender. Mitch wasn’t lucky on Saturday but we know him well from the last season. He has the speed to fight for wins and may well be championship title contender. Franky scored some important points for the championship and you certainly can’t rule him out of contention for overall podiums and wins too. Jeffrey was definitely the quickest of the amateur drivers and will keep improving. This weekend was very encouraging for the team and we look to carry out momentum into Japan.”
The Audi R8 LMS Cup continues in Japan with Rounds 3 & 4 at Suzuka International Racing Course on 10-11 June.
ABSOLUTE RACING CHINA CO.LTD.
Absolute Racing Workshop, Shanghai International Circuit, 2000 Yining Road Jiading Shanghai China 200051
Phone: +86 21 3887 9551
E-Mail: [email protected]