One-two-three Absolute Racing at Zhejiang
Shanghai, October 4th, 2017 – The Absolute Racing teams finished the 2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup season in the top three spots, following another strong performance in the season finale at Zhejiang Circuit, China.
With newly-crowned champion Alessio Picariello of MGT by Absolute taking the 2017 overall title in Shanghai last month, the race for the overall Audi R8 LMS Cup runner-up position went down to the wire in the season-closing Round 10, with four drivers still in contention, including OD Racing’s Mitch Gilbert and FAW-VW Audi Racing Team’s Franky Cheng Congfu.
Starting from the pole-position for the last round of the season, Gilbert had the upper hand and he didn’t waste the opportunity. The Malaysian-born driver, who was handed a post-race penalty in race one that saw him relegated from third to sixth, finished second to secure second in the championship standings.
Gilbert said of his Vice-Championship title, “It’s been an awesome season and my first year at Audi has been really good. It’s great that OD Racing has given me the chance to really race properly this year. I’ve raced in both the Cup and Blancpain GT Series Asia. Absolute Racing has given us a great car all year. I think we’ve been the most competitive team. First, second and third in the championship is a great reward.”
Franky Cheng had a tough time to tame China’s tight and twisting Zhejiang International Circuit. A fifth- and a sixth-place finish were enough to earn him a third place in the Cup.
The already-champion Picariello closed the season with a fourth place finish on Sunday after being an innocent victim of the first lap incident on Saturday’s race.
But the Absolute Racing teams success was not only confined to the overall class. Thailand’s Bhurit Bhirombhakdi wrapped up the Am Cup honours even before the lights went out at the start of Saturday’s 18-lap race, having earlier taken the class pole position and the title-clinching point that went with it. The Singha Plan-B Motorsport driver took the Am race win ahead of Sun Jingzu of Milestone Racing, who finished the season second in the category, winning the last race of the year.
Speaking of the Am Class title Singha Plan-B Motorsport’s Bhurit Bhirombhakdi said, “It feels good to win. I learned a lot [this season], because I stopped racing for a long time. I started last year and this is my second year back to driving, so I learned a lot from [the professionals], and from the tracks.”
Team Audi Volkswagen Taiwan’s Jeffrey Lee finished both weekend races in second place in the Am+ class and had to settle for vice-championship honours.
Commenting about the season, Team Manager Michael Schneider said, “This was a remarkable season for Absolute Racing. Our drivers had dominated the Overall class and the AM class. Alessio has proven that the Audi R8 LMS Cup is a great championship to develop skills. He went from a very talented runner-up to a dominating champion and he has also proven his skills in other championships already! Mitch had his first season in GT3, but he has learned very quickly and deserved his second place in the championship. Franky have had some impressive races like in Suzuka and has become a lot stronger comparing to last year’s season. For Bhurit, it was his first year with the Audi R8 LMS GT3, but he constantly improved his driving and sealed the Am class title in style.”
He added, “All our drivers have done an exceptional job this year and worked very well together. This was a key element to our domination! I also want to mention and thank our great crew for the tremendous effort they put into this season. The engineers have done an awesome job, off and on track, to give the drivers what they needed, and the mechanics have made sure that the cars have been in perfect condition all the time! We will work hard to ensure that the momentum continues next season.”