The entire season of the 2012 Audi R8 LMS Cup is getting even more dramatic as it finally close to an end. The battle for both the inaugural Audi R8 LMS Cup and the Amateur Cup titles will go right down to the wire in Shanghai this month after KLM Team's Adderly Fong of Hong Kong took victory in Round 10, leapfrogging Audi Ultra's Marchy Lee, who finished second, to the top of the leaderboard. The two rounds were held in support of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at the Shanghai International Circuit.
Audi Korea made a successful series debut with talented driver K.O. You finishing on the podium in just his second Audi R8 LMS Cup outing. Sun Zheng of Team Erdos Xinan also had a good outing, crossing the line in fourth.
Alex Au of AK Racing took his third Amateur Cup victory of the season so far, keeping his title aspirations alive with just two races to go. Second in the category was Hugues Ripert of Spark Motorsport, now fourth in the standings one point ahead of lady driver Zhang Ran of Audi Castrol who rounded out the amateur podium.
Winner of Round 9, Darryl O'Young, making his series debut as stand-in for Malaysia's Alex Yoong, had an unlucky outing after picking up a puncture and retiring. The same fate befell Amateur Cup points leader Jeffrey Lee.
In foggy conditions O'Young got away well from pole, and immediately set about pulling a gap from the hard-charging Fong, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap four. Marchy Lee's strategy was to keep the pair in his sights, and then push hard mid-way through the 16-lap race.
Team Betterlife's Wang Jian Wei also got away well, getting by K.O. You at the start, but then relinquishing the position to the Korean on the next lap. What was to be a thrilling, race-long duel between Wang and David Zhu of Team Zhe Jiang Aotong then commenced. Zhu dived past Wang on lap four, and the chase was on.
O'Young, meanwhile, had managed to pull a gap from Fong of 1.490 seconds by the end of lap seven but, just as Marchy Lee began his planned charge, it was game over for the race leader when debris on the track destroyed his rear tyre.
Less than a second separated title rivals Fong and Marchy by the end of lap nine, with the latter rapidly homing in on his prey. To maximize his chances of catching — and passing — Fong, Marchy switched off his traction control to give him extra power out of the corners. Suddenly, Marchy spun and, although he continued, his error had given Fong an unassailable lead.
As Fong headed to the finish and Marchy conceded defeat, the battle between Zhu and Wang in fifth and sixth was raging. Zhu had expertly kept Wang at bay lap after lap, but as the pair began the penultimate lap, crossing the start/finish line wheel-to-wheel, the battle intensified. A monumental effort just metre from the chequered flag saw Wang finally get by and sail home in fifth.
Despite retiring from the second race, it was a successful weekend for O'Young, who had taken pole position in qualifying and an emphatic victory in his debut Audi R8 LMS Cup race in Round 9, where he was followed across the line by Marchy after the Audi Ultra made an audacious move on rival Fong in the run to the flag. Marchy was later penalized by the Race Stewards and demoted to third. Like O'Young, Jeffrey Lee took pole in the Amateur Cup and followed that up with a resounding victory in Round 9.
The season finale of the inaugural Audi R8 LMS Cup will be held from November 9-11 at the Shanghai Sportscar Champions Festival, where the overall title will be decided between Fong and Marchy Lee, although Yoong still has a mathematical chance of winning the championship. Stay tuned for more updates!