Yasser Shahin clinches 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup title
Yasser Shahin is the 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup champion as the world’s first and only one-make series for full-spec GT3 cars took a final bow at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit on November 24. The Bend Motorsport Park driver kept his cool in the searing heat, his fifth-place finish in round 10 enough to secure him the title.
Ensport Motors by Absolute Racing’s Vincent Floirendo took the Challenger Trophy championship on his memorable return to motorsport, while China’s Sheng Yanwen took the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT4 title for his FEA team.
Round 9 – Race Report
After dramatic tropical thunderstorms all afternoon, the field took to the drying track behind the safety car, with Andrew Haryanto on pole but carrying the maximum 50kg of success ballast ahead of Yasser Shahin, Bhurit Bhirombhakdi and Daniel Bilski.
As the safety car released the field, Haryanto got away cleanly but rival Shahin was off like a bullet, despite almost zero visibility from the cloud of spray created by the hard-charging Indonesian ahead. Right on Haryanto’s tail, Shahin made a potentially-championship-
Tony Bates, the only driver to take the brave gamble of slicks over wets, paid a heavy price, immediately struggling for control on the slippery track surface and dropping down the order.
As Shahin continued to increase his advantage at the front of the field, he was soon to have it all to do again when Bates hit the wall, bringing out the safety car.
At the restart on lap 10, Yasser got away cleanly and set off towards his second Cup victory of the season. However, it was a different story for reigning champion Haryanto. Struggling after the restart, his rivals didn’t need a second invitation. First Bhirombhakdi then Au dived past, and then Bilski did likewise, demoting Haryanto down to fifth and out of championship contention.
Au kept the pressure on Bhirombhakdi and it eventually took its toll with the Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing driver making a trip into the gravel. He was able to extricate the car and continue to eventually cross the line sixth but, like Haryanto, he is now out of title contention.
As Au headed off in pursuit of Shahin, the clock continued to count down. Despite closing the gap to a little over a second by the flag, Au had to settle for second, with Bilski claiming the final podium spot.
Vincent Floirendo continued his successful Cup return with another Challenger Trophy win, fifth overall behind Haryanto.
Bilski’s B-Quik Racing teammate Henk Kiks was seventh overall ahead of Absolute Racing’s George Nakas of Australia, the Cup and GT3 competition newcomer once again impressing in challenging conditions as he had on his debut at Suzuka. Cup debutant Paul Kanjanpas of Thailand crossed the line in ninth.
Results round 9
1. 7/Yasser SHAHIN(AUS)/GT3/The BEND – Motorsport Park/33:06.935
2. 178/Alex AU(HKG)/GT3/CTVS Racers by Absolute/+1.057
3. 27/Daniel BILSKI(HKG)/GT3/B-Quik Racing/+5.687
4. 28/Andrew HARYANTO(INA)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+7.103
5. 55/Vincent FLOIRENDO(PHI)/GT3-CT/Ensport Motors by Absolute Racing/+7.857
6. 59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI(THA)/GT3/Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing/+8.903
7. 26/Henk KIKS(THA)/GT3/B-Quik Racing/+18.885
8. 14/George NAKAS(AUS)/GT3-CT/Absolute Racing/+24.199
9. 60/Paul KANJANAPAS(THA)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+26.365
10. 89/Anderson TANOTO(INA)/GT4/Absolute Racing/+46.896
11. 6/SHENG Yanwen(CHN)/GT4/FEA/+50.938
12. 66/QU Pengfei(CHN)/GT4/FEA/+1:03.066
DNF. 24/Tony BATES(AUS)/GT3/Tony Bates Racing
Round 10 – Race Report
With the wet conditions of Saturday night replaced by blazing sunshine, the morning’s qualifying session saw Andrew Haryanto secure pole position with a masterful lap – a second quicker than the rest of the field, and title contender Alex Au booking his seat alongside for the start of round 10. Behind them, Yasser Shahin, Bhurit Bhirombhakdi, Daniel Bilski and Tony Bates made a fearsome line-up, all equally determined to leave their mark on Asian motorsport history.
An issue in qualifying for Vincent Floirendo saw him start from the back of the pack, but this was to prove no handicap to the shrewd, quick privateer.
As the lights went out for the final time, Au was quickly side-by-side with pole-sitter Haryanto, with Shahin keeping a watching brief over the pair. Au and Haryanto briefly made contact before the Indonesian broke free and headed off for victory.
Au immediately came under fire from Bhirombhakdi who had got past Shahin, with Shahin taking no risks and keeping his eyes firmly on the main prize. Bilski was running fifth, while Floirendo had charged through the pack from the rear of the grid and was already up to sixth ahead of Bates.
By the end of the opening lap, Haryanto had pulled a gap of almost 3.5 seconds from the battling field, but it was all for nothing when the safety car was called out after defending GT4 Cup champion Anderson Tanoto was side-lined with a puncture.
Tanoto’s retirement gave Sheng Yanwen an unassailable points advantage, seeing him crowned the 2019 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT4 champion.
Haryanto expertly controlled the restart, enabling him to once again rocket into the distance. As Au tried to follow, Bhirombhakdi had other ideas and mounted a spirited attack. However, an error saw the Thai open the door momentarily to Shahin, who tried to move round the outside, but Bhirombhakdi just as quickly slammed the door shut and Shahin lost a place in the melee to the ever-watchful Bilski, who was now up to fourth.
Haryanto increased his advantage at the front, making a championship win look less and less likely for Au, who needed to win the race and hope other results went his way. Just behind, Bilski closed up to and got alongside Bhirombhakdi, making the move stick and moving up to third.
For Au, the respite was brief, and in no time Bilski was looming large in his mirrors. The final laps of the final race featured a white-knuckle battle between the pair, and Bhirombhakdi joining the party in the closing seconds before the flag.
As the flag fell for the final time though, it was a triumphant Haryanto who took the win from Au, Bilski and Bhirombhakdi. Shahin’s fifth place was enough to secure him the title, and fellow countryman Bates followed him across the line having got by Floirendo in the closing laps. George Nakas finished eighth ahead of Cup newcomer Paul Kanjanapas.
Following newly-crowned GT4 Cup champion Sheng over the line was FEA team mate Zhang Dongqi.
Results round 10
1. 28/Andrew HARYANTO(INA)/GT3/Absolute Racing/33:38.852
2. 178/Alex AU(HKG)/GT3/CTVS Racers by Absolute/+12.204
3. 27/Daniel BILSKI(HKG)/GT3/B-Quik Racing/+12.893
4. 59/Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI(THA)/GT3/Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing/+14.037
5. 7/Yasser SHAHIN(AUS)/GT3/The BEND – Motorsport Park/+25.084
6. 24/Tony BATES(AUS)/GT3/Tony Bates Racing/26.953
7. 55/Vincent FLOIRENDO(PHI)/GT3-CT/Ensport Motors by Absolute Racing/+33.968
8. 14/George NAKAS(AUS)/GT3-CT/Absolute Racing/+1:19.550
9. 60/Paul KANJANAPAS(THA)/GT3/Absolute Racing/+1:30.108
10. 6/SHENG Yanwen(CHN)/GT4/FEA/14 Laps
11. 88.ZHANG Dongqi(CHN)/GT4/FEA/13 Laps
DNF. 89/Anderson TANOTO(INA)/GT4/Absolute Racing
DNF. 26/Henk KIKS(THA)/GT3/B-Quik Racing
Championship Points after round 10
Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT3 Classification after round 10 (top 10)
1. Yasser SHAHIN/143
2. Alex AU/133
3. Andrew HARYANTO/132
4. Bhurit BHIROMBHAKDI/109
5. Tony BATES/82
6. Daniel BILSKI/78
7. Vincent FLOIRENDO/69
8. Anthony LIU/52
9. Geoff EMERY/41
10. SUN Jingzu/34
Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT4 Classification after round 10 (top 5)
1. SHENG Yanwen/110
2. Anderson TANOTO/70
3. WANG Dengjia/54
4. Shozo TAGAHARA/52
5. LI Lin/45
Audi Sport R8 LMS Challenger Trophy classification after round 10 (top5)
1. Vincent FLOIRINDO/69
2. Angelo NEGRO/27
3. MA Ka Chun/26
4. George NAKAS/20
5. LIN Yiming/12
(texts prepared by Audi Sport customer racing Asia)