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Shaun Thong claims Blancpain GT Series Asia podium in Sepang

Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia                          8- 9 April, 2017

Round #1/2 Blancpain GT Asia 2017

Early April in Malaysia marked Shaun Thong’s return to competition at the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS GT3, the 21-year old GT Asia Series Pro-Am Cup champion rejoining Phoenix Racing Asia and Audi Hong Kong alongside experienced veteran Marchy Lee for the maiden season of the new Blancpain GT Series Asia.

Fast in practice, the two Audi drivers were consistently amongst the top teams fighting for a podium result in Malaysia, and despite some tough challenges across the weekend, Thong delivered, taking he and Lee to two top five finishes including third in race two - in the process grabbing a share of third place in the championship points after two of 12 races.

For season 2017, whilst the championship is different, so too is Shaun Thong’s direction, the Hong Kong resident turning full-time to motorsport as an official driver for Audi Hong Kong, his sole focus for the season - winning races - and Malaysia was the first step towards that goal.

“I’ve been dreaming about the day I could become a full-time professional racing driver, and now that it’s happened, I’m so glad it is with Audi, and more importantly for me, Audi Hong Kong.

“Blancpain GT Series Asia was a great platform for me to continue my second season with Phoenix Racing Asia, with a number of very experienced teams and factory drivers coming into the Series from Europe.

“Almost immediately we were amongst the fastest cars in the field through unofficial testing and then when official practice began. As we did last year, Marchy qualified first, largely amongst the amateur drivers, whilst I went into the session which was largely filled with professional drivers. Eleventh place was okay, but as a racing driver, I wanted to be at the front of the field, that said if I’d qualified in the first group, I would have been P3..!

“Because of our ranking as ‘silver’ drivers, our car - like that of the other silver-silver combinations - has to carry an extra 25-kilograms of ballast, so I was knocking myself out comparing my times with team-mate Alex Yoong, because he was able to brake another 10 metres later than me.. I thought he truly was a superman until the team reminded me I had that extra weight onboard and he didn’t [Yoong’s team is Pro-Am].

“Marchy started the first race and spent much of his stint behind the safety car, we pitted early to allow us to get out of some traffic that was holding Marchy up, and I managed to move forward pretty quickly. I had a fantastic battle with star European drivers like Jules Gounon, Raffaele Marciello and Jesse Krohn and was able to get past them and up to second at one point before fading to fifth at the end of the race as tyre wear slowed my pace. It was great to be able to fight with guys that have so much GT experience, it was a great test to see just how competitive we will be this season.

“In race two I started, but got caught up in someone else’s accident at turn two which saw me forced off the circuit to avoid an incident - in these tough championships you cannot afford a DNF [did not finish] so I had to make sure first the car was safe and I had nowhere else to go. That dropped me back down the order, but I charged back to the top ten and handed the car to Marchy in a position to finish on the podium.

“He had a great battle with the leaders and was second until the final two laps when another of the Audis was able to come through on fresher tyres and take the position away, but a third place in the first event of the year was a good result, and being third in the championship gives us a great foundation to attack for the top of the leaderboard over the next few events.

“Fortunately the next event at Buriram in Thailand [20-21 May], we won last year, so we’ll be calling on a lot of that data to be right in the mix again at the front of the field!”

For Shaun, his next commitment is rejoining Phoenix Racing Asia and Audi Hong Kong for the opening round of the 2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup where he will be once more at Sepang in Malaysia, and also back in a championship where his only start in 2016 netted him a podium finish!

* teams are allocated four sets of new tyres for qualifying and the two 60-minute races, they can use them however they like however most try to allow three good sets for the two races, and have to then decide which race will see a change to new tyres for the second leg after the compulsory mid-race stop, and which race they will continue on the same tyres.

Sepang International Circuit, China (8 April, 2017)

Qualifying #1 (15-minutes)

1. 86. Mitchell Gilbert (Audi R8 LMS GT3) - 2:04.180

2. 37. Anthony Liu (Ferrari 488 GT3) - 2:04.362

3. 99. Darryl O’Young (Porsche GT3-R) - 2:04.880

4. 5. Marchy Lee (Audi Hong Kong Audi R8 LMS GT3) - 2:04.985

5. 88. Jules Gounon (Porsche GT3-R) - 2:04.990

12. 6. Alex Au (Team Audi R8 LMS Cup Audi R8 LMS GT3) - 2:07.307

 

Qualifying #2 (15-minutes)

1. 6. Alex Yoong (Team Audi R8 LMS Cup Audi R8 LMS GT3) - 2:03.248

2. 999. Raffaele Marciello (Mercedes AMG GT3) - 2:03.255

3. 7. Will Stevens (Audi R8 LMS GT3) - 2:03.462

4. 13. Franky Cheng (Audi R8 LMS GT3) - 2:04.075

5. 38. Rui Aguas (Ferrari 488 GT3) - 2:04.151

11. 5. Shaun Thong (Audi Hong Kong Audi R8 LMS GT3) - 2:04.803

 

Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia (8 April, 2017)

Rnd#1 2017 Blancpain GT Series Asia (60-minutes)

1. 86. Gilbert/Patel (Audi R8 LMS GT3) - 26-laps

2. 999. Abbott/Marciello (Mercedes AMG GT3) +9.062

3. 91. Millroy/Krohn (BMW M6 GT3) +18.247

4. 888. Sugden/Syzmkowiak (Mercedes AMG GT3) +20.121

5. 5. Lee/Thong (Audi Hong Kong Audi R8 LMS GT3) +26.885

10. 6. Au/Yoong (Team Audi R8 LMS Cup Audi R8 LMS GT3) +39.417

 

Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia (9 April, 2017)

Rnd#2 2017 Blancpain GT Series Asia (60-minutes)

1. Davide Rizzo/Anthony Liu (Ferrari 488 GT3) - 27-laps

2. 86. Patel/Gilbert (Audi R8 LMS GT3) +26.697

3. 5. Thong/Lee (Audi Hong Kong Audi R8 LMS GT3) +29.355

4. 999. Marciello/Abbott (Mercedes AMG GT3) +36.247

5. 888. Syzmkowiak/Sugden (Mercedes AMG GT3) +42.926

9. 6. Yoong/Au (Team Audi R8 LMS Cup Audi R8 LMS GT3) +52.010

Championship Points (after two rounds of 12)

1. Mitchell Gilbert/Additya Patel (43-points), 2. Hunter Abbott/Raffaele Marciello (30), 3. Shaun Thong/Marchy Lee (25), 3. Anthony Liu/Davide Rizzo (25)

Shaun Thong annouce debut R8 LMS Cup Season with TEDA

Thong Pilots Official TEDA Racing R8 LMS                 March 29, 2017

2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup

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**Text and Picture derived from Audi Motorsports Asia**

- 2016 top three of Yoong, Picariello and Rump return

- Mitchell Gilbert and Shaun Thong join for full debut seasons

- Asian GT3 series to visit Malaysia, Japan, Korea and China

Beijing, March 28, 2017 – Asia’s leading motorsport stars will be joined by some of the world’s hottest young talent in the Audi R8 LMS Cup’s sixth season. The one-make sprint series is set to cut a swathe across the region with 10 rounds of action across five race weekends.

Series champion for the past three consecutive years, Alex Yoong, returns this year keeping up his record of competing in every Cup season thus far. The former Formula One driver will compete for Team Audi R8 LMS Cup in the coming season.

After a hugely impressive debut season, Alessio Picariello returns for another shot at a title he missed out on by a single point in 2016. The 23 year-old MGT Team by Absolute driver topped the championship on three occasions last season but missed out on the trophy after a dramatic season finale in Shanghai to finish second overall.

Martin Rump of Champion Racing Team was another standout youngster from the Cup’s 2016 season. His four race victories were the most of any driver and the 20 year-old Estonian will be looking to build on his third place overall finish in the season ahead.

Adding to the tussles between youth and experience that played out last season in the Cup will be Mitchell Gilbert, who joins for a debut season, and Shaun Thong, who will compete in his first full season.

Gilbert, who will race with OD Racing, finished third overall in last year’s Porsche Carrera Cup Asia after recording two victories in the series. The 22 year-old Australian showed his potential to adapt quickly to the Audi GT3 car by clocking some impressive lap times in the Audi R8 LMS Cup’s pre-season test event in January.

Shaun Thong, the Young Driver Development Programme participant for the Asian platform of Audi, will race a full Cup season for the first time with Audi TEDA Racing Team. As part of his development process the young Hong Kong native took part in the Audi Sport TT Cup in 2015 as well as being part of the first all-Asian team to enter the Nürburgring 24 Hours for the past two seasons, along with regular Audi R8 LMS Cup appearances.

Audi R8 LMS Cup champion in 2012, Marchy Lee, will return this season as part of Team Audi Hong Kong. The co-owner of Cup service provider, Phoenix Racing Asia, is another who has appeared in every season of the sprint series since its launch.

Cheng Congfu will also return in the FAW-VW Audi Racing Team car for 2017. The Chinese star closed out a challenging 2016 on a high with a top 10 finish in the FIA GT World Cup in Macau and will be looking to rediscover the form that saw him finish as Audi R8 LMS Cup runner-up in 2015.

Korean star driver K.O. You returns for another season with the Cup as part of Team Audi Korea and will be looking to push on from his GT3 class victory alongside Alex Yoong and Marchy Lee in the finale of the Asian Le Mans Series earlier this year.

More driver announcements will be made shortly.

Launched alongside the Audi R8 LMS Cup in 2012, Audi Sport customer racing Asia builds on the global customer racing platform of Audi. In addition to the Audi R8 LMS Cup, in 2016, the programme supported entries into some of Asia’s and Europe’s leading motorsport series and events including the FIA GT World Cup at the Macau Grand Prix, the Sepang 12 Hours, GT Asia Series, and the Nürburgring 24 Hours.

The Audi R8 LMS Cup’s sixth season will begin with Rounds 1 and 2 at the Sepang International Circuit on 6-7 May.

2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup calendar

Official Test / May / Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
Rounds 1&2 / May 6-7 / Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
Rounds 3&4 / June 10-11 / Suzuka International Racing Course, Japan
Rounds 5&6 / July 15-16 / Korea International Circuit, South Korea
Rounds 7&8 / September 9-10 / Shanghai Audi International Circuit, China
Rounds 9&10 / October 20-21 / Zhejiang International Circuit, China

Maiden Podium Finish for Thong as Guest Driver at Fuji Audi R8 LMS Cup

Fuji Speedway, Japan                                          10-11 October, 2015 

Rnd #11/12 Audi R8 LMS Cup 2015                                                

Shaun Thong secure his maiden podium in the Audi R8 LMS Cup championship after seeing him starting from 5th in Race 1 and moving to take the podium position away from Championship contender Franky Cheng in the closing stages. In Race 2 Thong delivered an amazing finish to take home 4th after gaining weight penalty from his Race 1 podium finish. 

" I am very pleased with my performance this weekend, I was fast since the first session and i was 2nd in both Free Practice sessions. However I did not transfer this performance into qualifying as i made some mistakes in the best lap and i was only good for P4 and P5 on the starting grid. However I raced well to make up some positions and nothing can be more delighted to finish on the podium under a very tough grid! I guess if i started further front, i am confident to challenge for the win!" Said Thong

Shaun Thong Wrapped Up Audi Sport TT Cup Season in 6th Overall

Hockenheim Circuit, Germany                         17-18 October, 2015

Season Finale Audi Sport TT Cup 2015

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The 2015 Audi Sport TT Cup has came to an end here in Hockenheim Circuit, alongside the finale of the 2015 DTM season. Audi Sport Customer Racing Asia's talent Shaun Thong concluded his first Touring Car season in 6th overall. 

On Saturday the Hong Kong young gun qualified 4th on the grid, just 0.3 behind Audi Sport's Factory driver Rene Rast from Pole Position. However Thong suffered from suspension failure immediately after the lights went off and he dropped out of contention. On Sunday's Race 2, Thong also suffer from tough luck after starting from 5th after an early contact which damaged his steering column but managed to gathered valuable points in P12 to secure 6th Overall in the championship. 

To recap the 2015 Audi Sport TT Cup season, Shaun Thong's only podium and only win was from the German street circuit Norisring where he show cased his adaptability in changing conditions in qualifying and race to secure a double Pole Position and a race win. 

Thong also took 2 top 10 finishes in Nurburgring after intense battle with the leading pack but he ran out of Push to Pass at the end to launch an attack to the front. 

" It wasn't the weekend i want to finish the season, my speed is promising this weekend and i was really aiming to finish top 3 in the championship although the chance is very minimal. But after starting from P4 and P5 and yet failing to secure a good finish, it is disappointing but it is positive on the other hand that i have learnt how to race better in the future. I enjoyed my season with the Audi Sport TT Cup although it took me awhile to fully understand the car, but i believed the experience i had this year will aid me in the future." Said Thong. 

A Magical Weekend for Shaun Thong at the Audi Sport TT-Cup Norisring!

Norisring Street Circuit, Germany                          27-28 June, 2015

Rnd#3/4 Audi Sport TT Cup 2015

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Hong Kong's Shaun Thong took a light to flag victory in the renown Norisring Street circuit in Hamburg, Germany after he started from Pole Position under the changing weather conditions and held off his rival for 15 laps and took home his first ever victory in the inaugural Audi Sport TT Cup and also his first in Touring Cars racing. 

" I am lost of words!! But i am extremely delighted to have put my beautiful Audi TT Cup racer on a double pole position this weekend and now i have converted my Pole Position into a race win! Thank you my mechanics and my helper Tim for make every decisions on spot and providing me a winning car. It was a really good recover from the first weekend in Hockenheim as that weekend was really rough but after today's result i am more relief and knowing I am able to win boost my confidence a lot more! " Said Thong. 

However the winning streak did not continue on Sunday although Thong made a rocket start off the line but a cold rear tire at lap 1 has spun him around and dropped the 3rd. He lost further places in the race due to racing incidents contact but he came home 16th, gaining valuable points for the championship. 

Solid result for Hong kong rising star Shaun Thong's 24H Nurburgring Debut!

Nurburgring Nordschleife, Germany                           18th May, 2015

2015 ADAC Zurich 24 Hours of Nurburgring

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Shaun Thong completed his first 24 Hours of Nurburgring with a Solid P12 finish, it also marks a successful weekend for Thong and his team. 

Marchy Lee started the race and and his stint was then took over by Ex Formula 1 driver Alex Yoong and Chinese star Franky Cheng later on. Shaun Thong was the 4th driver to get into the car and was lapping consistently at 8:40 pace which was impressive with the Hard Compound Michelin S9L. 

Whilst Yoong and Cheng fought hard through the night under difficult situation under fog and damp conditions, the #15 Audi R8 LMS Ultra made it through the night safely and was moved up to P15 after avoiding failures and accidents in the Eifel. Shaun Thong was the first driver to start a stint in the morning at 7am and he made an amazing double stint and also recorded the teams fastest lap of the race at a 8:36 lap, eventually making 2 positions in his double stint and the car was then passed over to Yoong and Cheng whereas Lee was handed with an hour to go and the Full Asian Lineup crossed the line 12th to record their inaugural success of their ADAC Zurich 24 Hours of Nurburgring Excursion. 

" i think we could have gain 1 or 2 more positions at the closing stage if we push more but I am very pleased with 12th place for my first ever 24 Hours race and it was a true showcase of team spirit, my teammates did a fantastic job to hustle the car through this challenging yet unpredictable circuit. Moreover the whole TKL motorsport team worked 110% flat-out to achieve this result. I have to credit all mechanics and engineers who made this result possible for us! " Said Thong. 

 

24 Hours of Nurburgring Qualification Race

Nurburgring Nordschleife, Germany                     12th April, 2015

2015 24H 6Hours Qualification 

Shaun Thong has made a great return to the "Green Hell" for his second time here for the Qualification race of the 2015 24Hours of Nurburgring and delivered a solid P6 finish among his Full Asian line up team Alex Yoong, Marchy Lee and Frankie Cheng.

The team supported by Audi Race Experience TKL squad feels ready for the Main 24 Hours event in a month time and for the first time the Asian team will participate in the infamous 24 Hours of Nurburgring Endurance race.