Malaysian star race driver Alex Yoong of Audi TEDA Racing Team has done it again; claiming 3rd consecutive championship in the Audi R8 LMS Cup, just 1 point ahead of Alessio Picariello of MGT Team by Absolute.
Heading into the final race of the season at the Shanghai International Circuit, Alex had a one-point lead over rookie driver Alessio Picariello, but was carrying an extra 20kgs performance ballast after finishing 3rd in the previous race.
For the start of the final race (Round 12) Alex was 4th on the grid, whilst his rival started in 6th spot. As the lights went out the 2 front runners stormed off the grid and Alex made an impressive pass on the inside of turn 1 to secure 3rd place, while his rival had a difficult first lap and fell back as far as 8th position.
All Alex had to do was keep his car in 3rd position whilst his rival had a difficult race behind, slowly climbing up the field to 6th place.
Driving a perfect race with the extra 20kgs ballast and old tyres, Alex was pulling away from the 2 cars behind of Shaun Thong and Franky Cheng who were in a bumper-to bumper fight for 4th place.
After 5 laps out of 13 the unimaginable happened- the cars of Shaun Thong and Franky Cheng touched, sending Cheng off the track and head-first into the barrier. This caused the safety car to come out and allowed Alex’s rival to catch up right behind in 4th place.
For the final 8 laps of the race, the ultimate championship went down between Alex Yoong and Alessio Picariello, who was only one second behind. Whoever finished in front would be crowned the 2016 champion.
The multiple race winning experience of Alex Yoong was on display as he held off the charge of the young rookie, driving with precision and determination.
As the intense battle for the championship continued, on the final lap of the race the young rookie made a risky attempt to pass Alex on the inside of turn 6, hitting the reigning champion and forcing him off the circuit ending his race.
But not all was lost as Alessio was given a 30 second penalty for crashing Alex out of the race, thus making Alex Yoong the 2016 Audi R8 LMS Cup champion for the 3rd consecutive time.
“Wow what a weekend. I’m used to these championship showdowns but they’re still very nerve-wrecking. I knew this would be a tough race. I was having a good race though, and was comfortable holding third place watching the fight in front. But the safety car made things complicated. Alessio came from too far back in my opinion. I saw him coming and left space to go around the outside which would have given me the inside for the next corner, but he was unable to slow down enough, hitting me in the process and breaking my front right steering arm,” shared Yoong.
“But it’s been great racing in the Cup all year round. I want to thank the Audi TEDA Racing Team for working hard all season and giving me a superb car. Thanks to Audi for running such a great race series. I’m very proud to be an Audi driver and triple Audi R8 LMS Cup champion. Also a big thanks to Maju Home Concept who have been good support this year and Asia Motorsport Development for helping to look after me,” he added.
2016 Audi R8 LMS Cup
Overall classification after Round 12 – Top 10
- Alex YOONG – 167
- Alessio PICARIELLO – 166
- Martin RUMP – 160
- Rahel FREY –157
- Marchy LEE – 137
- Aditya PATEL – 80
- CHENG Congfu (Franky) – 70
- Jan KISIEL – 69
- Kyong-Ouk YOU – 45
- Edoardo MORTARA – 44