Hong Kong’s Marchy Lee with Audi Ultra scored a perfect weekend at the Inner Mongolian Ordos International Circuit, earning pole position and scoring victories in both Rounds 5&6 of the Audi R8 LMS Cup.
Lee, who also drove the fastest laps in each race, did not put a foot wrong all weekend in his Audi R8 LMS Cup car and his results have vaulted him into first in the fight for the championship, two points ahead of rising star Adderly Fong with KLM Team in his first season of sportscar racing.
Former Formula 1 driver Alex Yoong with Audi GQ is third in the championship a further 23 points behind . While Yoong finished second in Round 5, the Malaysian was forced to retire early in Round 6. Yoong spun and his restart resulted in a gearbox problem.
Fong, who finished fifth in Round 5, scored a second-place finish in Round 6, but could not match Lee’s pace, crossing the finish line 14.198 seconds behind. Third in Round 5 was Charlie-Ro Charlz, who earned his second third-place finish in as many races. Charlz made his Audi R8 LMS Cup debut in Ordos, filling in for injured Audi Castrol driver Zhang Ran this weekend. Australian Charlz easily adapted to his smooth-handling Audi R8 LMS Cup car during qualifying, before piling on the pressure on Yoong in Round 5.
Commented Director of Audi Sport customer racing in China, Rene Koneberg: “We’re delighted that three of our Audi China teams swept the podium in Round 5 for the first time in series history.”
Hong Kong driver Alex Au scored a double victory in the Amateur Cup in his Audi R8 LMS Cup debut. Hong Kong’s Byron Tong continues to lead the non-professional class.
Just in its first season, the Audi R8 LMS Cup, the marque’s first-ever one-makes racing series, is already gaining international attention and raising the bar on Asian motorsport.
This weekend the Audi R8 LMS Cup introduced a new tyre with partner Michelin, the S9LL (long life). Exclusive to the Audi R8 LMS Cup, the new tyre has been designed to last for an entire weekend of racing, from free practice to the chequered flag
“We believe the new long life tyre is a positive technological contribution to motorsport and Audi is proud to continue to stand at the forefront of motorsport innovation,” Koneberg said.
Audi is a leading proponent of the track-to-road philosophy. Its technological innovations honed in motorsport are implemented in its road car production, directly translating to the consumer as improved efficiency.
Round 5 saw Lee start from pole and quickly begin to establish a gap between him and the rest of the field, before taking the chequered flag 10.745 seconds ahead of Yoong, who had quickly worked his way up from fifth on the grid to second place. Behind Charlz in third were Finn Pekka Saarinen and Fong, fourth and fifth, respectively.
Lee was equally impressive in Round 6, this time winning with a 14.198 second margin over Fong. Starting from pole, Lee immediately began to pull away. From fifth, Fong quickly moved into third position behind Lee and Yoong, with Saarinen and hometown hero Sun Zheng with Team Erdos Xinan chasing behind. On the third lap Yoong and Saarinen both spun, dropping down the order and leaving Fong to move into second place, ahead of Sun and Charlz. Charlz overtook Sun on Lap 4 and the top three would remain in place for the rest of the race.
The Amateur Cup proved to be an exciting contest, with Hong Kong-based Frenchman Hugues Ripert leading the class until he was forced to retire on Lap 12. Au inherited the lead and although challenged by celebrity entertainer Aaron Kwok with Team Audi R8 LMS Cup and fellow Hong Kong racer Byron Tong, Au held strong.
The Audi R8 LMS Cup debuted earlier this April at the Shanghai International Circuit. Two races in Zhuhai followed in June, before Rounds 5&6 in Ordos, Inner Mongolia. The series will next return to the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai for Rounds 7&8 from September 14-16, before November’s highly anticipated season finale.
Quotes after Round 6:
Marchy Lee (Audi Ultra)
“I started very well and I tried to apply the same strategy in the afternoon as I did in the morning. I just stayed focused and I ended up setting a very fast pace. I tried not to push too hard and just stay focused. So the strategy worked for both races today. I just wanted to stay calm every lap and it has been just a wonderful weekend – beyond words. Audi R8 LMS Cup is just a great competition as you can see the progress of every driver each round. It has been a special weekend as it is the first time anyone in the series has won two races in a weekend.”
Adderly Fong (KLM Team)
“It got hot out there in the afternoon and it started to affect the cars and the drivers. It was hot for everyone. I had a good lead over Charlie-Ro but I could see him starting to catch me over the last few laps. That’s the nature of this series – you really have to fight. I feel very lucky to have finished in second today because the race got harder and harder.”
Charlie-Ro Charlz (Audi Castrol)
“It was a pretty interesting race [Round 6] from my seat. I didn’t get off to a good start. On turn two I got a bit of a tap that sent me out into the dirty stuff. So I lost a few positions but was able to make my way back through. It was a great race. Adderly was driving well and it was hard trying to chase him down. I still managed to bring home third so I am happy.”
Alex Au (AK Racing)
“I am still learning the starting procedure so I wasn’t fast at the start and a few cars passed me. Then I was just waiting and seeing what might happen in front of me. I had the pace to keep up with Aaron and Byron and plan my attacks and make my move. Aaron came back at the end and I had to really push at the end. Fortunately I had enough left in my tyres to make it home.”