Two dramatic races for the Audi R8 LMS Cup entry in the opening rounds of the GT Asia Series saw drivers Jeffrey Lee of Chinese Taipei and Marchy Lee of Hong Kong finish twice on the podium, with Marchy leading the drivers classification after earning an extra point for fastest lap in the first qualifying session. Jeffrey is one point behind and tied for second place.
Driving the new Audi R8 LMS ultra in the Pro/Am category, the impressive pairing of the quick and talented non-professional racer and one of Asia’s most experienced drivers proved a force to be reckoned with. The Audi R8 LMS ultra is the latest 2012 specification of the highly-successful GT3 racing car.
Marchy set the fastest time in the first qualifying session – giving him what would ultimately be the crucial extra point – while Jeffrey’s fifth-fastest time in second qualifying session meant that the team would start on the third row for Sunday’s second race.
Saturday’s season-opening round saw Marchy take the wheel for the first stint. Though starting from pole, he lost several positions off the start, before another car made contact to push the team back to ninth at the end
of the opening lap. However, Marchy quickly worked his way back up through the field, recording the race’s fastest lap, to go second.
After 10 laps, the Audi R8 LMS ultra pulled into the pits and Jeffrey took over driving duties. On Lap 12, the team dropped to third and, although Jeffrey pushed hard to move back up, he had to settle for the final podium place.
Round 2 took place on Sunday, with the team starting from fifth on the grid and Jeffrey first behind the wheel. Due to finishing third in Round 1, a 20 kg success ballast was added to the car. After being pushed down to eighth on the opening lap, Jeffrey fought back up into sixth before the driver change.
Following the driver change, Marchy quickly got to work, but faced with heavy traffic, the Hong Kong ace had a tough job getting through the field and up into third.
A yellow flag period gave Marchy the opportunity to close up the gap. Two laps later, the Safety Car came back in and Marchy grabbed the chance to fight for second.
Each GT Asia race will be 40 to 60 minutes in duration with a rolling start. While driver changes are permitted, each driver scores his own points for the championship title.
Next up for the official Audi R8 LMS Cup entry is Rounds 3&4 of the GT Asia Series from June 9-10 at the Sepang International Circuit. The series then moves to Japan for races at Fuji, Suzuka and Autopolis, before concluding the season as part of the Macau GT Cup at the 59th Macau Grand Prix.
“The start was average and we lost some places on the straight, although we managed to catch up and get some of the positions back. It was the best we could do. I struggled a little bit with the car with some under steer, but overall I think we had a good weekend.”
“I managed to overtake the second-place car, but then he came back so we had a bit of a good, but fair, fight. The race was pretty tough today. The Audi R8 LMS ultra did a very good job, but after taking second I needed a couple more laps to fight for the lead. We’ll be working on the car to find more speed for the next race.”