The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup will make its European debut with rounds three and four at the biggest Audi Sport customer racing festival of the year, the Nürburgring 24 Hours. From May 10 to 12, a talented international field of committed privateers from seven nations and territories are set to pilot Audi R8 LMS GT3s and GT4s on the Grand Prix configuration of Germany’s most famous circuit. Amongst that line-up is legendary former Superbike World Champion and MotoGP race winner Carlos Checa, who swaps two wheels for the Audi R8 LMS GT4’s four in the category’s official launch.
“There could be no better way for the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup to make its debut in Europe than at the biggest festival of the year for Audi Sport customer racing,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “We are committed to giving our customers the opportunity to race at the world’s most iconic motorsport events, and they do not come much bigger than the Nürburgring 24 Hours. We saw great racing in Australia at our season opener, and we expect equally close battles in Germany. Good luck to all!”
Leading the charge into rounds three and four is Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT3 points-leader Andrew Haryanto of ProMax Team on 40 championship points. A brilliant debut on the Adelaide Street Circuit in March saw the Indonesian win the opening round and take a podium finish in round two. However, Australian Yasser Shahin’s two podium finishes on his Cup debut put him well within striking distance just six points behind (34 points). Shahin will compete at the Nürburgring for Team HCB-Rutronik Racing.
Reigning Am Cup champion Bhurit Bhirombhakdi of Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing is back, as are the Absolute Racing Chinese duo of Yang Xi and Sun Jingzu. The series’ longest-serving driver, Jeffrey Lee of Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan makes the journey as part of what is a busy 2018 racing season for the Cup star.
Several German drivers will make their Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup debuts on home turf. Car Collection Motorsport enters 24H Series regulars Dimitri and Dirg Parhofer, while Gruhn Stahlbau fields long-time Audi driver Berthold Gruhn. Bernhard Henzel, a Nürburgring 24 Hours class podium finisher, is entered by Racing Engineers. Carsten Tilke, son of the famous Formula 1 circuit designer Hermann and Managing Director of the eponymous Tilke GmbH & Co, enters with Montaplast by Land Motorsport, rounding out the 11-car Audi R8 LMS GT3 field.
All of the GT3 entrants will be fighting it out to join Haryanto on the official Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup team at the 2019 Total 24 Hours of Spa. A fully-supported seat is on offer to the highest total points-scorer from the weekend’s double-header.
As the first-ever Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT4 championship gets under way, the five-car entry is piloted by a truly intriguing line-up of drivers led by 2011 Superbike World Champion Carlos Checa of Spain, competing as part of Audi Sport Team Ducati. Joining him is Anderson Tanoto of Indonesia with the Hard Memory Hero Super Car Team. Chinese driver Naomi Zhang of CTVS Racers makes a welcome return to the Cup, having competed in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Stefan Wieninger, last year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours SP 3T winner, enters with LMS Engineering, while Jean-Luc Weidt races with Uwe Alzen Automotive.
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup drivers will have two experienced experts on hand as mentors over the weekend. Former Cup star and respected sprint and endurance driver Rahel Frey of Switzerland makes a return to the series in which she raced for four seasons between 2013 and 2016. Malaysia’s Weiron Tan is the talk of Asia since earning an FIA WEC LMP2 seat this season with Le Mans class winners Jackie Chan DC Racing, alongside fellow countrymen Jazeman Jaafar, Nabil Jeffri and Afiq Ikhwan Yazid.
The Cup is joined at the Nürburgring by no fewer than 10 Audi Sport customer racing entries in the headline endurance race, amongst them 2017 Cup race winner Dries Vanthoor and professional Chinese driver He Xiaole, who makes his 24 hour race debut. In addition, the seven Audi RS 3 LMS entries in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup will swell the brand’s ranks to over 30 race cars at the iconic event in the Eifel.
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup Nürburgring weekend gets under way with qualifying for each of the two races on the morning of Friday, May 11, with round three starting at 14:00 local time (UTC+2). Round four begins at 08:25 local time on Saturday May 12.
Provisional Entry List
1. 1/Dimitri PARHOFER/Germany/GT3/Car Collection Motorsport
2. 3/YANG Xi/China/GT3/Absolute Racing
3. 7/Jeffrey LEE/Chinese Taipei /GT3/Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan
4. 10/Berthold GRUHN/Germany/GT3/Gruhn Stahlbau
5. 11/Stefan WIENINGER/Germany/GT4/LMS Engineering
6. 13/SUN Jingzu/China/GT3/Absolute Racing
7. 28/Andrew HARYANTO/Indonesia/GT3/ProMax Team
8. 42/Carsten TILKE/Germany/GT3/Montaplast by Land Motorsport
9. 59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI/Thailand/GT3/ Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing
10. 66/Dirg PARHOFER/Germany/GT3/Car Collection Motorsport
11. 74/Yasser SHAHIN/Australia/GT3/Team HCB-Rutronik Racing
12. 71/Carlos CHECA/Spain/GT4/Audi Sport Team Ducati
13. 89/Anderson TANOTO/Hong Kong/GT4/Hard Memory Hero Super Car Team
14. 99/Zhang Ran/China/GT4/CTVS Racers
15. 148/Bernhard HENZEL/Germany/GT3/Racing Engineers
16. 888/ Jean-Luc WEIDT/Germany/GT4/Uwe Alzen Automotive