On-form Sun Jingzu of China took his second Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup win of the season today, sweeping to victory in round eight at Shanghai International Circuit.
The Absolute Racing driver did not put a wheel wrong after snatching the lead off the start from pole-sitter and Cup returnee, Alex Au of KCMG. Just over three-tenths of a second behind Sun across the line was The BEND – Motorsport Park’s Yasser Shahin, concluding an impressive Shanghai debut for the Australian.
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 honors 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 program.
“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.”
After a typhoon passed by overnight without incident, drivers lined up under clear skies and in markedly higher temperatures, with a track temperature of 32 degrees.
As the lights went out on the rolling start, Sun and Shahin were away like bullets, soaring into the lead with Shahin firmly closing the door on pole-man Au.
As the drivers emerged from the start line melee, Yasser was keeping Sun firmly in his sights while Au, Bhirombhakdi, Bao, Haryanto and Lee gave chase.
In the GT4 runners, Liu got away well but spun at the hairpin. Manfully, he fought to rejoin and, with Tanoto bearing down on him, powered the car back and continued to lead the Indonesian all the way to the flag.
While more used to battling at the front of the pack, the rivalry between Bhirombhakdi and Haryanto was alive and kicking as the pair battled for fourth midway through the race, the Indonesian, Haryanto, having found his way past Bao. However, with just four laps remaining, Haryanto dropped down the order.
Sun continued, untroubled, to his second Cup victory of the season pounding out quick, consistent laps.
While Shahin knew better than to push too hard for the win and jeopardize his Road to Spa seat, the closing stages saw Au creep ever closer to the Australian. But Shahin was too quick for Au, and sailed across the line a whisker behind Sun.
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.
The SIC888 which gets underway at 10:30 (UTC +8), Sunday 7 will cover 163 laps.
1. 13/SUN Jingzu(CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/27:56.268
2. 74/Yasser SHAHIN(AUS)/GT3/The BEND – Motorsport Park/+0.345
3. 12/Alex AU(HKG)/GT3/KCMG/+1.177
4. 59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI(THA)/GT3/Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing/+12.964
5. 55/BAO Jinlong(CHN)/GT3/Absolute Racing/14.388
6. 7/Jeffrey LEE(TPE)/GT3/Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan/+20.452
7. 28/Andrew HARYANTO(INA)/GT3/ProMax Team/+22.556
8. 98/Jeffrey ZEE(CHN)/Cup/Sprit Z Racing/+1:13.158
9. 97/Jacky WU(CHN)/Cup/Spirit Z Racing/+2:09.629
10. 666/Ryan LIU Zexuan(CHN)/GT4/Absolute Racing/+1 lap
11. 89/Anderson TANOTO(INA)/GT4/Absolute Racing+1 lap
12. 36/Sam LOK Chi Kit(HKG)/GT4/852 Challengers/+1 lap
13. 6/SHENG Yanwen (CHN)/GT4/FEA Racing/+1 lap