- Line-up includes Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup mentors and exciting young motorsport talent
- Five drivers confirmed in programme
- Drivers to compete for titles in leading Asian championships with local teams
Beijing, April 10, 2018 – Audi Sport customer racing Asia has confirmed its driver pool for 2018. The five-driver line-up consists of Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup professional mentors Adderly Fong and Cheng Congfu and the region’s most exciting young talent: Estonia’s Martin Rump, Hong Kong’s Shaun Thong and Mitch Gilbert of Malaysia - all race winners with Audi in the region. The drivers will receive support to compete within local teams for championship titles in the region’s leading GT3 series.
“Adderly Fong and Cheng Congfu are exceptional drivers who are hungry for titles in Asia. Their experience is also vital in developing the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup’s privateer line-up in their role as the series’ official professional mentors,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Young driver development has always been central to our motorsport operations in Asia. Martin Rump, Shaun Thong and Mitch Gilbert are proven young talents, have developed with Audi in the region and have the potential to win Asia’s leading championships.”
Fong won the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup in 2013, and remains one of Asia’s leading drivers. He was the first-ever driver from Hong Kong to test a Formula 1 car and is a Pirelli World Challenge race winner. This season Fong’s mentoring role with the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup will see him set benchmark data and provide coaching for the series’ privateer line-up. Along with these duties, he will team up with long-time teammate Andrew Kim at Absolute Racing for their assault on the Blancpain GT Series Asia title in the Pro/Am category.
Fellow Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup professional mentor Cheng is China’s most successful circuit racer and has been an ambassador for the brand in his home country for many years. A star of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup since 2013, Cheng will also combine his Cup mentoring role with a Blancpain GT Series Asia campaign. Cheng will line up alongside Rump in a silver/silver pairing gunning for overall GT3 glory for Absolute Racing.
Rump’s pairing with Cheng is the next step on his development process with Audi. The Estonian kicked off his Asian motorsport career in style by winning the Formula Masters China Series, a Volkswagen Group China-run, Audi-supported junior single-seater championship. This saw the youngster graduate to a full Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup season in 2016, when he impressed with four race wins. Last year the 22-year-old made his mark in the China GT Championship with three race wins along with full seasons in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup and Blancpain GT Series Asia, where he recorded a Pro/Am race win at the season finale.
Mitch Gilbert stormed into the spotlight in 2017 in his breakout season with Audi, finishing second in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup and missing out on the Blancpain GT Series Asia title by just a single point. Out to capture the overall Blancpain GT Series Asia championship this time around, Gilbert reunites with Audi India’s Motorsport Brand Ambassador Aditya Patel at OD Racing Team WRT.
At just 22 years-of-age, Thong is an exciting young driver whose career is demonstrably on the ascent. Part of the Audi Sport customer racing Asia Young Driver Development programme for the last four years, which included a season in the Audi Sport TT Cup and two appearances in the first all-Asian squad for the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, Thong won the GT Asia Series Pro/Am category in 2016. Thong then went on to win the Blancpain GT Series Asia Silver Cup in 2017 while also recording impressive results in his first full season in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup. This season Thong is making his debut in Japan’s Super Taikyu Series with Phoenix Racing Asia alongside triple Cup champion Alex Yoong of Malaysia and long-time Audi racer Alex Au.