Alessio Picariello says he’s enjoyed competing in the Audi R8 LMS Cup again this season and to have won the championship after missing out by just one point last season.
The Belgian driver claimed the title in the highly competitive single-make series one round early at the Shanghai last month, securing an insurmountable points lead going into this weekend’s season finale at Zhejiang.
“It’s been a pretty good season and already after the first round, the goal for me was to be champion at Shanghai,” Picariello told Sportscar365.
“From the beginning on, we could see it was possible and then through the season it got better and better.
“My goal was definitely to be champion in Shanghai so that I could focus on some other things at the end of the season.
“It feels good, especially after losing by one point last season, so it’s definitely a good feeling to be champion this year.”
Picariello speaks highly of the Audi R8 LMS Cup after two full seasons competing in the Asian series, which has given him his main start in GT racing.
“For me, Asia has been special because it’s where I started my career,” he said. “Racing in the Audi R8 LMS Cup has been a great experience. It’s also where I did my first test in GT cars, and it’s a high level.
“There aren’t that many cars in the field but [the competition] is really strong. It’s also a good way to enter the Audi family.
“Asia is really professional but it’s definitely relaxed in the paddock and between the teams. There is less pressure than you would feel in Europe so that’s what I like about racing in Asia.”
While having dabbled in the Europe and Asia-based Blancpain GT Series, as well as the Asian Le Mans Series, all of Picariello’s sports car racing starts have come at the wheel of the Audi R8 LMS, which he has praised.
“The Audi is the only GT car I’ve ever driven but I’m impressed with the performance of the new R8 because it feels a lot like a formula car,” he said.
“I also had the opportunity to drive the ultra, the old version, and it was good but the new R8 is definitely a step ahead. It feels way more like a formula car to me so I think that’s quite impressive.”
Looking ahead to next season, the 24-year-old is evaluating opportunities outside of Asia as well, but doesn’t have anything planned out so far.
“For now I have a few options but nothing is confirmed yet because we want to wait before we take a decision,” he said.
“We don’t know yet but we are open to driving in Europe, Asia or both, or even America, so we’re looking at every option at the moment.
“Obviously, Audi would be the best option because it’s the only GT car I’ve driven, but at the moment nothing is confirmed so I’ll just wait and see what kind of options I have at the end of the season.”