In today’s newsletter read about the debut of the Cup at the Penbay International Circuit, made possible with the support of local driver Jeffrey Lee. This weekend, newcomers Aditya Patel and Thomas Fjordbach excelled on the challenging and demanding track, while Franky Cheng and Alex Yoong rejuvenated their championship campaigns. Catch up with Audi DTM driver Edoardo Mortara, winner of Round 5 in Taiwan, and hear about his season so far. Learn all about the Push to Pass innovation, and go behind the scenes with Cup TV production and distribution partner CTVS.
The Audi R8 LMS Cup gave international motorsport a fittingly spectacular Taiwan debut as it held the series’ first-ever triple-header at Taiwan’s Penbay International Circuit in Kaohsiung. Boosted by the enthusiastic turnout of more than 4,000 of local spectators, the Cup drivers ensured they did not disappoint, with three action-packed, 16 lap races which had their new-found fans roaring in approval.
With Audi DTM driver Edoardo Mortara joining the field for Rounds 5-7, the Italian took the first victory of the weekend from pole ahead of China’s Franky Cheng and 22-year-old newcomer, Thomas Fjordbach of Denmark. In the Amateur Cup, it was local hero Johnson Huang won Round 6 from category leader Ashraff Dewal of Malaysia and Australian Daniel Bilski.
Under a scorching sun, and with track temperatures reaching 54 degrees Celsius, the on-track action was as heated as the cockpits, but the Michelin tyres proved more than a match for the elements. Sunday’s opening race turned the form book upside down. Although it was Mortara who crossed the line first, he was handed a 30 second penalty for an opening lap incident when ended the race for Fjordbach. That gave the win to China’s Franky Cheng, with India’s Aditya Patel and Alex Yoong of Malaysia joining him on the podium. In the Am Cup, Alex Au took his first win of the season ahead of Dewal and Huang.
The final race of the day saw Fjordbach take his maiden Audi R8 LMS Cup victory in truly emphatic style, with Yoong second and Cheng taking the final podium spot. As the Cup bid a fond farewell to Taiwan, it is Patel who leads the overall championship, four points ahead of Fjordbach, with Cheng’s excellent weekend propelling him from 10th to third on the leaderboard. In the Am Cup, Dewal still leads the charge from Bilski, with Alex Au in third.
The Audi R8 LMS Cup drivers and teams now take a well-earned summer break, and the action will resume with Rounds 8 & 9 at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit from September 4-6.
Jeffrey Lee of J-Fly International, promoter of the Penbay weekend and Audi R8 LMS Cup regular since day one, is passionate about racing and he is rightly proud to have played such a crucial role in introducing international motorsport to his home town. While drivers and teams from Taiwan have found success in regional motorsport for years, never before had they had the opportunity to race at home for their legion of local fans.
“I’m very excited to be able to race here in front of a home crowd, although that also brings additional pressure as I want to do well for them,” said Lee. “Taiwan didn’t have a good track before Penbay, but now with the introduction of the Audi R8 LMS Cup here, people can see motorsport done in a very professional way. The sport is growing fast here, but it’s important that it is introduced properly. Before, teams and drivers had to do everything themselves but now, with the new facility plus the technical support Audi provides, they can improve their skills.”
After his recent visit to the Le Mans 24 Hours, Lee was struck by the carnival atmosphere surrounding the event. In addition to bringing the highest levels of motor racing to Taiwan, he is also keen to attract new fans to the sport by replicating the fun-factor: “Everything is new here, and the Penbay area is a holiday venue, so ideal for a race track. People can enjoy top level international sport without travelling overseas!”
Audi DTM driver Edoardo Mortara was back in Asia this weekend and reunited with the Audi R8 LMS Cup. No stranger to the Cup, Mortara made his debut in the final round of the inaugural season in 2012, and has returned regularly over the years in between his duties as a front-running Audi DTM driver.
Currently 4th in the DTM championship, we caught up with ‘Edo’, as he is affectionately known, at the Penbay International Circuit to talk about life as an Audi DTM driver and what it’s like to be back with the Cup:
How does it feel to be back in Asia with the Cup and in a GT car?
“I love the Audi R8 LMS Cup!Joining the Cup and seeing lots of friends, enjoying the atmosphere, racing at different places around the world that I’ve never known – it’s my first time to Taiwan for me for example – makes it really cool!
“The DTM and Cup cars require different approaches and driving styles. The Audi DTM is more like a prototype, with every component built for racing. While it’s true the two cars are completely different, it’s very important to adapt. As a driver, it’s important to try many different things and use different techniques. The goal is always the same:to get more performance.”
How is your DTM season going so far?
“This is my fifth season in DTM. I’ve had some ups and downs; some very good years, one very bad year. This year started pretty well. I had a very strong first race weekend with one 4th and one 2nd, so was leading the championship after the first race weekend. The second one was also pretty positive and I was ranked 2nd after the weekend. The third, though, was a bit difficult because we have a system of weights. The better your performance, the more weight you carry on the car. We were the heaviest possible on the third weekend, which was a street circuit, and for four corners it was basically braking, turning, acceleration, where the weight has a big influence. Unfortunately we couldn’t really do a lot.”
And what are your thoughts ahead of the next rounds?
“The next DTM weekend will be very important. At the moment I’m 4th in the championship, but because of the last weekend we’re losing 10kg for the next round and our competitor will gain 10kg, so that will make us more competitive. Looking at what we did in the first two weekends, I know we can aim for a very strong result, and definitely we need to do something good if I still want to have a chance to win the championship.”
Introduced last season, thePush-to-Pass innovation adds even more to the Audi R8 LMS Cup on-track action by allowing drivers to fully open the throttle giving a temporary 50hp boost in power.
Each driver given a pre-set number of Push-to-Pass opportunities, each of a specified duration, for every session, and the quota is allocated by organisers depending on the length and layout of each race track to maximise the action.Race officials use past track data to calculate where on the track the drivers are likely to be at full throttle and for how long, and decide the optimum number of Push-to-Pass options to keep the racing fast and furious. For instance, at the Penbay International Circuit, drivers were given 14 Push-to-Pass opportunities during the Qualifying session, allowing for two quick laps in the main qualifying session with enough to spare for another in the Super Pole shoot-out.
With each drivers’ fastest lap in the first race deciding the grid for Round 6, 18 Push-to-Pass options – four more than in the other two races but of shorter duration given the track length - were permitted in Round 5 on the assumption that all drivers would try to get in one ‘qualifying lap to ensure a good starting position for the next race.
While Push-to-Pass provides the fans with more overtaking and better racing, it also makes the drivers think harder about their racing tactics. Smart, fun and innovative.
Weeks before the Audi R8 LMS Cup cars arrive at the race track, series video production and distribution partner, CTVS, has been hard at work preparing. Each race track is thoroughly recced in advance to identify optimal camera positions and precisely what technical work will need to be carried out to get the show on the air.
At most of the circuits, cabling has to be laid for each Audi R8 LMS Cup event, contributing to the whopping 2.5 tonnes of equipment CTVS requires to stage the show. More than 10kms of cabling, 25 cameras (including the on-boards), editing suites, a massive 22 TB server and other technical must-haves are operated by the experienced, 37-strong crew. The multi-national and multi-lingual team hails from Germany, France, Britain, Australia, Canada, Mainland China and Taiwan, and includes directors, producers, editors, cameramen, technicians and a host of others.
Every exciting second of the Audi R8 LMS Cup is live-streamed across cyberspace simultaneously in English and Chinese, while professionally-produced HD highlights are aired on Fox Sports Asia networks and countless other channels, all just days after the chequered flag falls. That’s not to mention the countless online edits posted online throughout each race weekend. Bringing all the excitement of the championship to its fans requires the same level of precision and performance as the Cup car itself.