Race wins for Alex Yoong and Martin Rump, series lead for Alessio Picariello: The Cup’s debut in Thailand featured highly contested races with the young newcomers making strong bids for the title. Read all about why happiness is synonymous with Buriram, we give you a look under the hood of our new car, while Alessio tells you what it’s like to be behind the wheel.
Following two highly contested races in front of 10,000 fans under the scorching Thailand sun, Alessio Picariello of MGT Team by Absolute leads the 2016 Audi R8 LMS Cup with 65 points, ahead of reigning champion and Round 3 winner, Alex Yoong of Audi TEDA Racing Team (62 points), and Round 4 winner Martin Rump of Champion Racing Team (61 points).
The three youngest drivers on the grid completed the podium in Sunday’s Round 4 at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, with Martin putting in a masterclass performance to win from pole, ahead of Alessio and Jan Kisiel of KCMG, who achieved his first podium in the Audi R8 LMS Cup coming in third.
On Saturday, Alex triumphed in Round 3 ahead of Alessio and Audi Hong Kong’s Marchy Lee.
Jeffrey Lee of Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan clinched back-to-back victories in the Amateur Cup category while Daniel Bilski took a clean sweep in the Masters Cup for his Thai-based team, B-Quik.
The Cup’s young stars challenged the established campaigners from free practice to the final podium in Buriram this weekend underscoring the dichotomy between this season’s raw, young talent and experienced professionals.
While Alex used his long-honed skills to take the podium and overall series lead in Round 3, the youngest drivers on the grid turned the tables in Round 4. Martin (20) won with Alessio (23) and Jan (22) clinching positions two and three. With this, the youngest drivers of the weekend filled the podium on Sunday.
“I knew the competition in this series would be strong and I didn’t expect the first win in Shanghai. But I have also been quick to adapt and increase my pace,” said Martin, reflecting on the competition against the Cup’s established drivers. “I’m not surprised to be up on the podium today, because this was what we aimed for, what we worked for.” Rump also attributed part of his strength to his team, Champion Racing. “I was confident going into this race given their support.”
Earlier in the weekend Alex gave a nod to how experience can give drivers an advantage on the track. “I’ve done a few races now so race craft is something I think I’m on top of. It was a hot topic that I just turned 40, people were joking and giving me old-man comments. So it was good to prove myself by standing on top of the podium.”
Of course there is a lot more to it than age. “Many elements count, like new tires or a race success weight ballast,” added Alex. So perhaps it is not a battle of the ages but certainly for the ages in the 2016 Audi R8 LMS Cup.
The Cup debuted in Thailand over the weekend, making a stop at Buriram —the City of Happiness — for another action-packed round of races as the drivers continue to make their way across Asia this season.
The once remote city of Buriram is quickly evolving as a haven for sports enthusiasts on and off the track. Buriram’s Chang International Circuit is the first FIA Grade 1 track in Thailand, and one of the newest circuits in Asia. While the Thai motorsport industry is still in its adolescence compared to other storied racing markets, hotbeds like Buriram are putting Thailand on the map and attracting leading series like this month’s visits from Audi R8 LMS Cup and the Formula Masters China Series, which is powered by Audi and Porsche.
The Buriram circuit features 4.5 kilometres of challenging turns and long-straights, all of which could be seen by the 10,000 fans who packed the grandstand over the weekend. Many Audi R8 LMS Cup drivers were testing their limits on the circuit for the first time ever – a challenge they were happy to accept.
The new Audi R8 LMS race car: second generation, first in performance
The Audi R8 LMS Cup has entered another hotly contested season, with the second generation of the successful GT3 sports car accelerating the performances and competition on the track. The new car has already proven its superiority, winning its debut at the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring in 2015 and clinching a one-two-three victory in the Sepang 12 Hours.
The new Audi R8 LMS race car meets the latest FIA GT3 classifications, is 4.58 metres long and weighs in at just 1,225 kg. It is capable of going from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.2 seconds and reaching an impressive top speed of 305 km/h.
The car shares about 50 percent of its technical base with the production Audi R8 street car.