- Four new Audi R8 LMS cars on grid of city street race in Macau
- World’s most important GT3 sprint race upgraded by FIA
- Endurance race in Asia to follow in December
The new Audi R8 LMS instantly won its first major endurance race – the Nürburgring 24 Hours – in May. Now the GT3 sports car will be battling for victory in the season’s most important sprint race in the streets of Macau. At the same time, this marks the Asian premiere of the Audi R8 LMS from November 19 to 22. The International Automobile Federation has awarded ‘FIA GT World Cup’ status to this city street race for the first time. Starting in 2016, Audi will be fielding the new race car in the Asia-wide Audi R8 LMS Cup.
Three times in the past four years, Audi won the Macau GT Cup – each time with Edoardo Mortara at the wheel. The Audi driver from the DTM is returning to the city street circuit again this year. He will be supported by Audi Sport Team Phoenix that achieved its first triumph in a race in Macau in 1999, with an Audi A4 quattro super touring car.
Among the fiercest rivals in the field of the 22 race cars from seven manufacturers is one of Mortara’s brand colleagues: Audi WEC driver René Rast. The German is competing for Audi Sport Team WRT that clinched the first victory of the new Audi R8 LMS at the Nürburgring. Two race drivers from Asia are relying on Audi’s GT sports car as well. Marchy Lee will be contesting the event as a local hero for Audi Hong Kong and Jeffrey Lee from Taiwan will be competing for Absolute Racing. In Philip Ma, a fifth driver in the field has opted for an Audi. The privateer driver from Hong Kong will be contesting the FIA GT World Cup in a proven Audi R8 LMS ultra of Absolute Racing.
“For the Asian premiere of our new race car, we selected the world’s most prestigious sprint event in GT racing,” says Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “Media and public awareness of this race is enormous because the Macau Grand Prix with its various racing series has a 62-year tradition.”
Two free practice plus a qualifying session will be followed by the qualification race on Saturday, November 21 and the main race on Sunday, November 22. The FIA GT World Cup in Macau will kick off a major presence of the new Audi R8 LMS in Asia. Before the end of December, the GT3 model will be contesting the 12-hour race at Sepang, followed by regular appearances on Asian race tracks starting next season. From 2016 on, the Audi R8 LMS Cup will feature the new race car while concurrently offering a classification for existing models. Audi’s first one-make cup will be entering its fifth year in 2016. In this year’s season finale at the end of October, former Formula One driver Alex Yoong defended his title barely ahead of Chinese motorsport star Cheng Congfu.
Audi redesigned the R8 LMS for the 2015 season, setting new safety benchmarks with its high crash standards. The sports car is a leader in terms of lightweight design as well. About 50 percent of the race car is based on the production model of the sports car, the Audi R8. Since September, Audi has been delivering the GT3 racing version with a power output of up to 585 hp, depending on the regulations, to customers around the world.