MGT by Absolute’s Alessio Picariello Crowned 2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup Champion
- Fourth win of the season gives the title to Picariello
- Absolute Racing kept the “1-2-3” in the championship standings
- Double win in the AM Class for Sun Jingzu
Shanghai, September 11th, 2017 – MGT by Absolute’s Alessio Picariello has been crowned the 2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup Champion after producing a sensational drive in the Round 8 at the Shanghai International Circuit.
The Belgian driver had to win the final race of the Shanghai weekend to be crown champion. The odds seemed stacked against the MGT by Absolute driver, who started the race in 3rd place, but the 24-year-old driver went on a relentless attack that would prove fruitful after 30-minute of nerve racking action played out in front of a big crowd.
One day before, on Saturday afternoon, Picariello had surged past his rivals to claim the final podium place after starting from sixth on the grid.
“I wasn’t looking forward to Round 7, as I had to carry 50kg. Luckily there were some raindrops, and I love those conditions. I really had fun out there, and it actually helped me a little bit with the success ballast”, he said.
Sunday arrived, the sun was shining, and the crowds flocked to the circuit filling up the grandstands.
Picariello dismissed Absolute Racing teammate Franky Cheng Cong Fu with a superb start, before carving his way by race one winner and guest driver Dries Vanthoor in the end of the straight line a few laps later. Once at the front the ‘Belgian Bullet’ never looked back and second place finisher Franky Cheng never got close enough to challenge for the lead.
Following a fourth place finish on Round 7, FAW-VW Audi Racing Team’s Cheng was a terrific second on his home soil on Sunday. With a last-lap effort of his own Mitch Gilbert concluded the weekend with a fourth place finish, after crossing the line in sixth in the first race of the event. Cheng and Gilbert lie second and third respectively in the drivers’ championship standings.
Further back in the field, Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan’s Jeffrey Lee has taken two podium places in the AM+ Class, consolidating the second position in the class standings.
In the AM Class, in both races, Milestone Racing’s Sun Jingzu took the win in the Am category ahead of Thailand’s Bhurit Bhirombhakdi. The Singha Plan-B Motorsport racer has a good advantage over his Chinese rival in the standings but theoretical both drivers still can clinch the title with two races to go.
The newly crowned Cup champion, Alessio Picariello, commented on the season: “It’s really good to win the title by winning the race, I’m happy for my team and everyone. To become champion, you need lots of mental strength, lots of consistency and always need to maintain a positive attitude, even when things are difficult so you can turn the situation around. MGT by Absolute Racing set the car up well which was key to my winning performance in such a strong field, they’ve played a really big part in the championship. I’ve had lots of good moments this year, I’ve won at every track we’ve been at, winning in Korea with a 10-second gap was one of many stand out memories.”
“We are very happy and proud to have achieved this result before the final races, especially as the Audi R8 LMS Cup is so closely contested,” said Ingo Matter, Team Director of Absolute Racing. “Alessio and the whole team performed flawlessly all season and it feels good to have the championship back in the Absolute Racing camp. Congrats also go to Sun Jingzu for his double race win in Shanghai.”
Team Manager Michael Schneider, added, “First of all, congratulations to Alessio for securing the championship. Today was pretty perfect afternoon for the team in terms of the end result, with a 1-2 finish in front of an amazing Shanghai crowd this afternoon. We saw a thrilling race with an outstanding performance of all our drivers without exception. We leave Shanghai with three drivers in the top-three of the championship standings and we are leading the AM Class. Last note, a big congratulations also goes out to Anthony Liu and Franky Cheng that took the victory in today’s China GT Championship race!”
The sixth season of the Audi R8 LMS Cup will culminate on the weekend of October 7 and 8 at the Zhejiang International Circuit.