Yasser Shahin secures Road to Spa seat in Shanghai
Shahin’s points haul across the four China rounds of the Cup secured him the penultimate seat on the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup team for the 2019 24 Hours of Spa – a reward on offer to the highest points scorer in each nation on the Cup’s 2018 calendar. Shahin beat his race-winning rival Sun to the coveted prize by just a single point, scoring 63 points in China, compared to Sun’s 62.
Taking his second podium in what has been a strong return to the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup this weekend was Au, with Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing’s Bhurit Bhirombhakdi fourth. Cup newcomer Bao Jinlong of China, who was prevented from making his debut in round seven by technical issues, finished fifth on his debut ahead of cup star Jeffrey Lee of Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan.
GTC Cup class honours were won by Jeffrey Zee of Spirit Z Racing ahead of teammate Jacky Wu. With his fourth class win from four races, Zee has an unassailable lead in the category, becoming the Cup’s 2018 GTC category champion.
Absolute Racing’s Ryan Liu wrapped up a dream Cup debut with a second GT4 pole-to-flag run, but this time points-leader and teammate Anderson Tanoto made it a tougher race for the young pretender. Third in class was the 852 Challengers’ Sam Lok, crossing the line ahead of Cup debutant Shang Yanwen of FEA Racing.
“Congratulations on Sun Jingzu on a superb second win of the season in round eight today,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “His incredible rise in pace this season is testament to both his dedication and to the success of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup driver mentor programme. Our congratulations too to Yasser Shahin on securing his seat alongside Bhurit Bhirombhakdi and Andrew Haryanto on the Audi Sport customer racing Asia team at the 2019 24 Hours of Spa.”
With November’s Malaysian double-header remaining, Bhirombhakdi tops the GT3 leaderboard on 137 points, 11 points ahead of title rival Andrew Haryanto of ProMax Team (126 points). Shahin sits on 103 points and Sun on 90 points, leaving a four-way battle for the title with two rounds remaining.
With all Cup drivers who take the start of Sunday’s SIC888 endurance race earning 10 points towards their championships, when Tanoto climbs into the Audi R8 LMS GT4 he will share with fellow Indonesians Andrew Haryanto and former F1 driver Rio Haryanto, he will seal the first-ever Audi R8 LMS Cup GT4 championship title.
Qualifying for the SIC888 was completed following the Cup’s round eight. In the GT qualifying session that will set the front of the SIC888 grid, Audi customers will fill the first two rows. Official Audi Sport Asia driver Martin Rump took pole for himself and Absolute Racing teammates Yuan Bo and Bao Jinlong with a lightning lap of 2:04.042. Reigning Cup champion Picariello starts from second alongside J-Fly Racing teammates Andre Couto and Jeffrey Lee (2:04.518).
Absolute Racing’s Adderly Fong, Cheng Congfu and Sun Jingzu will line-up third (2:05.270) with Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing’s Kantasak Kusiri and bothers Bhurit and Piti Bhirombhakdi rounding out an Audi R8 LMS GT3 top four (2:06.070).
The Indonesian Super Team’ of former F1 driver Rio Haryanto, Andrew Haryanto and Anderson Tanoto will start seventh in an Audi R8 LMS GT4.
Meanwhile, just a few hundred kilometres away from Shanghai at the FIA WTCR Race of China-Wuhan event, Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team driver Jean-Karl Vernay converted his pole position for race one into victory, as teammate Gordon Shedden claimed his first podium in third. The event features six Audi RS 3 LMS entries and is taking place on the Wuhan International Street Circuit as part of the China Automobile and Motorcycle Sports Festival.