Hong Kong’s Marchy Lee kept his cool through rising track temperatures and a lengthy Safety Car period to score his maiden Audi R8 LMS Cup win at the Zhuhai International Circuit and now leads the fight for the inaugural championship title.
Hong Kong driver Adderly Fong with KLM Team finished second, reaching the podium for the second consecutive race, while Team Erdos Xinan driver Sun Zheng of China took the final podium position – his first – in Round 3. Jeffrey Lee of Chinese Taipei with Pauian Archiland J-Fly Racing took his second win in the Amateur Cup.
Going into tomorrow’s Round 4, Marchy Lee has a four-point lead over Fong in the overall drivers classification, with Malaysian Alex Yoong, with Audi GQ, a further three points adrift. Jeffrey Lee leads the Amateur Cup by a single point over Hong Kong driver Byron Tong with AK Racing.
Yoong started Round 3 from pole position for the rolling start but, despite spirited defending, was demoted to second place soon after, when Marchy Lee, who started from third on the grid, made the most of a perfect start to overtake Fong and Yoong. Once Lee took the lead, the Hong Kong driver would never relinquish it.
Yoong, however, had no such luck and by the end of the first lap was third with a four-car battle taking place right behind him – Jeffry Lee, Team Betterlife driver Wang Jian Wei, Sun and Team Zhe Jiang Aotong driver Han Han swapped places a number of times, catching and piling the pressure on Yoong. The five-car group, sometimes three abreast, was covered by just two seconds.
Jeffrey Lee lost some speed, allowing Wang and Sun past him before retaking the position. The advancing pair maintained that momentum to dive past Yoong, who was also passed by Han before finishing seventh overall.
On Lap 5, Team Audi R8 LMS Cup driver Aaron Kwok spun following an attempted overtaking maneuver and hit the barrier. Seconds later, Team Chengdu New Elements driver Hua Xia Wei also spun and hit the barrier. Both cars retired from the race after absorbing heavy impact and both drivers are uninjured.
Temperatures at the Southern Chinese circuit rose higher and higher and the Safety Car brought some welcome relief for the drivers as it paced the field for six laps.
Marchy Lee controlled the restart to maintain his position over Fong and increased his lead, recording the fastest lap on Lap 16.
In the Amateur Cup, Jeffrey Lee made it an action-packed pole-to-flag performance in his class, scoring his second Amateur Cup win and fourth position overall. Hong Kong driver Byron Tong scored his first podium of the year with second in the non-professional class, closely followed by Hughes Ripert, making his debut in the Audi R8 LMS Cup.
Marchy Lee (Audi Ultra)
“I think I was a little bit lucky on the start and maybe something was wrong with Alex’s car. Once past him, I worked step-by-step to make the gap bigger and bigger. I did wonder why the Safety Car was out for so long and I spent that time thinking about what to do at the restart and what I could do to control the pace. That was the key factor, keeping the gap to second place
Adderly Fong (KLM Team)
“As I get more and more time in this car I get to know it that little bit better. I tried to catch Marchy but he was faster than me with lap after lap being perfect – I just couldn’t catch him.
I was very happy to see the safety car come out as I could get some time to relax. It was very hot in the car! I thought that the Safety Car would give me a second chance at a win, but Marchy was perfect on every lap. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Jeffrey Lee (Paulian Archiland J-Fly Racing)
“My pace was good at the start and I managed to work my way up from fifth to third. But then I tried an overtake and lost some pace.
When the Safety Car came out I was wondering if the cars in first and second place would make a mistake and I could catch up. Overall, the pace of the car is good and I hope to maintain that tomorrow for the next race.”