Last weekend saw round 5 and 6 of the Audi R8 LMS Cup take place, a one-make race series featuring our homegrown racer Alex Yoong. Alex and fellow racer, a young Belgian Alessio Picariello, are currently tied at the top of the championship table.
For the uninitiated, the Audi R8 LMS Cup is a single-make race series where drivers, either professional racers or gentlemen drivers, race across tracks in Asia with the identically-specced Audi R8 LMS race car. This season, the second-generation 570hp Audi R8 was the car of choice for all, and is based on GT3 specifications. The race is organised by Audi China and is part of the Audi Sport customer racing Asia programme.
In the first race, Alex Yoong started fourth on the grid, and made a splendid start thanks to fresher tyres. The Malaysian overtook all three drivers ahead before reaching turn one and led comfortably throughout the race. His only competition came from current DTM driver, Edoardo Mortara, but the best Mortara could do was settle for second place. Rahel Frey, a Swiss lass and the only female driver of the series, finished third in her green R8 with Castrol liveries.
As the R8 LMS rules go, Alex’s victory in the first leg “earned” him a 50kg weight penalty. Subsequent podium finishers will also receive a 35kg and 20kg ballast for second and third place, respectively.
The battle turned intense when Picariello, who had his 35kg ballast removed from the first leg, made contact with Mortara’s left door in turn 2 but the experienced Italian retained his composure to lead the race. It was Mortara’s racing experience that gave him the win, followed by the charging Picariello in a close second place. Frey was the most consistent driver of the weekend by taking the final podium of the race. Yoong meanwhile crossed the finish line in sixth.
On another note, current GP3 driver and fellow Malaysian, Akash Nandy, took this off-season break from single-seater racing by driving one of the KCMG’s R8. He finished both races in ninth place.
As for the points standing, both Yoong and Picariello are tied at the top of the championship standings with 95 points, and Frey’s double podium earned her the third spot in the overall standings. In the Amateur cup, Jeffrey Lee of Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan scored double wins and leads the Amateur cup standings.
The next race will move to Korea and will take place on 24 and 25 September 2016, before the finale in Shanghai in November. Alex, who is also Malaysia’s first Formula One driver, took two consecutive Audi R8 LMS titles in 2014 and 2015. With his vast experience in many forms of motorsports, the 2016 title is just within an arm’s reach for him, as long he keeps the talented young Belgium at bay.