The battle for Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup championship title reignites this weekend after the summer hiatus, as the brand with the four rings’ flagship series makes its first appearance in China this season.
The venue for rounds five and six is the impressive new Ningbo International Speedpark, some 200 km south of Shanghai.
With an all-privateer field for its seventh season and an exciting calendar, which has so far seen the championship make its mark in Australia and Europe for the first time, the Cup returns home to China for two consecutive meetings.
This weekend’s Ningbo double-header is followed by Shanghai in October, with the highest GT3 points-scorer across the China rounds winning a coveted seat on the Cup’s team at the 2019 Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Making his highly-anticipated Cup debut is Chinese singer and actor Han Geng. The ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ actor steps on to the high-octane Cup stage in a Hard Memory Hero Super Car Team Audi R8 LMS GT4.
“After the summer break, we are raring to go with our first races in China this season, the home of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “The championships are on a knife-edge with everything to play for as we approach the halfway stage.”
Leading the GT3 title chase on 71 points after four races is ProMax Team’s Andrew Haryanto, the Indonesian having won the opening round in Adelaide plus taken two podium finishes in Australia and Germany.
However, just eight points adrift on 63 points is Thai sensation and reigning Am Cup champion Bhurit Bhirombhakdi of Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing with two Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup race wins to his name so far this season.
Also very much in it to win it is Australian Yasser Shahin (40 points) of Absolute Racing, who joined the Cup from the opening round in his native Australia and is looking for his first victory after impressive showings thus far.
Cup vice-champion last season, China’s Sun Jingzu, will be back in action with Absolute Racing, while Cup star Jeffrey Lee continues his campaign with the Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan Audi R8 LMS GT3.
Absolute Racing’s Yang Xi continues his pursuit of the podium and he is joined by compatriot Jeffrey Zee of China from new team entrant, Moby Dick Motorsport Club.
Indonesian Anderson Tanoto heads the GT4 entry, the ambitious Absolute Racing driver a podium finisher on his Cup debut at the Nürburgring in May.
Cup mentors for the Ningbo weekend are Cheng Congfu and Adderly Fong. Along with Sun, the pair finished an impressive sixth in the Pro/Am class for Absolute Racing at last weekend’s ultra-competitive Suzuka 10 Hours in Japan.
The Ningbo circuit was completed last year and has already played host to a number of prestigious championships including the FIA World Touring Car Championship. The FIA Grade 2 track has 22 turns, is run counterclockwise and is located in Chunxiao in the rapidly-expanding Beilun coastal development area.
The weekend gets under way with qualifying for round five at 10:35 a.m. on Saturday, with the 16-lap (or 30 minute) race starting at 3:15 p.m. Qualifying for round six begins at 10:50 a.m. on Sunday, with the race getting underway at 2:35 p.m. (all times UTC +8).
Both rounds will be live streamed on the Cup’s website and Facebook page along with Chinese portals PPTV, Youku and more.