Adelaide, February 28, 2019 – The eighth season of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup will blast off the starting blocks this weekend at the Superloop Adelaide 500 in South Australia where the new 2019 evolution of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 will make its eagerly-anticipated Cup and Australia debut. The weekend’s double header marks the start of a 10-race, five-circuit season over which the all-privateer line-up will vie for the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup titles.
Both the reigning Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT3 and GT4 champions are back to defend their crowns, supported by Audi Sport Asia professionals under the Cup’s mentor programme. In Adelaide, China’s Cheng Congfu, young Estonian talent Martin Rump and Malaysia’s FIA WEC star Weiron Tan form the professional mentoring trio.
“It’s always exciting to start a new season, and even more so on a challenging street circuit like Adelaide. We have a competitive grid and the new Audi R8 LMS GT3. All is set for another great season of customer racing in Asia-Pacific,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia.
Returning as GT3 Cup champion is Absolute Racing’s Andrew Haryanto of Indonesia. Haryanto sealed the championship in a nail-biting season finale last year, snatching the title from on-track rival and off-track friend Bhurit Bhirombhakdi by five points. Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing’s Bhirombhakdi is back for another crack at the title, as is The Bend Motorsport Park’s Yasser Shahin, who made his Cup debut last season and finished third in the championship. Another strong GT3 title contender in 2019 will be China’s Sun Jingzu, who won two races in 2018 and was a regular on the podium.
Also making a return are former Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup Am Cup champions Alex Au and Daniel Bilski. Au turned in impressive performances in his Shanghai appearance in the Cup last season, recording one pole position and two podiums at the double-header. Bilski’s return, meanwhile, means that the Australian privateer will have appeared in six of the Cup’s eight seasons, earning himself two championship titles along the way: the Masters Cup in 2016 to go with his 2015 Am Cup title.
Back for another taste of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup this weekend is the winner of round two in Adelaide last season, Tony Bates, a familiar face around the race tracks of his native Australia.
Making his Cup debut this weekend will be Geoff Emery, a five-time Australian Commodore Cup Champion and two-time Australian GT Champion, who took both GT titles in an Audi R8 LMS.
Heading up the GT4 entry is 2018 standout newcomer Anderson Tanoto of Indonesia. In his first full season of motorsport competition, the Absolute Racing driver quickly secured the Cup’s first GT4 championship title with two wins and three podiums across just six races. However, the man who twice denied Tanoto victory in Shanghai last season is back with the Cup for a full assault on the title: newly-appointed Audi Sport customer racing Asia Ambassador Liu Zexuan. Also competing in an Audi R8 LMS GT4 in Adelaide is experienced Australian driver Mark Williamson.
Qualifying for round one of the 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup gets underway at 15:35 (UTC+ 10:30) on Friday, March 1. Qualifying for round two follows at 09:55 on Saturday with round one starting at 13:20. Sunday’s round two begins at 11:10.
Both rounds will be live on television in Australia and New Zealand on Fox Sports, and live streamed to the rest of the world on the Cup’s website, as well as on the Cup’s Chinese media partner IFENG and more Chinese portals.
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup is operated by Audi Sport customer racing Asia.
The series is supported by HONOR, Pirelli, Castrol EDGE, adidas motorsport, SPACE PLUS, IFENG and CTVS.