November 08, 2016 @ 09:04 PM

Alex Yoong clinches the 2016 Audi R8 LMS Cup title by a single point

A third consecutive title for Yoong while Martin Rump shines with back-to-back wins

Returning to China for the final showdown, Round 11 and 12 of the 2016 Audi R8 LMS Cup were filled with dramatic battles as the front runners clashed their swords in claiming the coveted title. And despite being forced out of the race in the final round, Alex Yoong of Audi TEDA Racing Team emerged victorious by a hair’s breadth, scoring his third consecutive championship.

 

The final chapter of the 2016 season started off with four of the five title contenders filling up the first two rows of the grid in Round 11, all eager to get a slice of the championship. But as the lights turned green, it was Martin Rump from Champion Racing Team who got a rocket start from second on the grid and led the race all the way from the start to the chequered flag.

The battle for the remaining podium spots were fought between Yoong and Alessio Picariello which they finished in second and third respectively, but none of them knew that those are the final points they will be collecting for the season.

 

After winning the previous race, Rump now starts from pole position for Round 12 but with an extra 50kg ballast on board. Usually these ballasts will slow one down, making it hard to maintain such position especially with pursuers running on lighter cars. But Rump stuns the field by not only maintaining the distance, but taking a second race win in a row at Shanghai International Circuit after leading the race from start to the finish line once again, trailed by Aditya Patel who finished second.

“This is unbelievable. I wanted to have a good race but I didn’t really expect this. I heard I made history (winning with 50kg of ballast) – so that’s great. I am also very thankful to all of the many people supporting me on the Champion Racing Team,” said the young Estonian driver.

 

At the back, the battle for third position was boiling up as Yoong overtook Shaun Thong and Cheng Congfu who were engaged in a bumper-to-bumper battle. The battle between those two resulted in Cheng running off track, ending his race early and prompted the safety car to be deployed.

As the field slowed down, Picariello closed the gap between him and Thong which he immediately overtook once the safety car exited the track. Locking down his sights towards Yoong, Picariello tried his luck by attempting to pass his season-long rival on lap 12, but both of them came into contact and a broken steering column had forced Yoong out of the race.

 

With a possible championship win in hand, Picariello had to finish ninth or above to secure the title for 2016. While he did cross the finish line in an uncontested eighth place, he received a penalty which demoted him down to 12th place, allowing Yoong to once again emerge as the championship victor for the third consecutive year.

“I thought of defending during the last charge from Alessio in Round 12, but unfortunately the hit broke the steering column on my car straight away. But it’s been great racing in the Cup all year round. The car is superb. It’s only onward and upward from here!” said Yoong.

 

Alex Yoong barely took the championship with 167 points in the bag, closely trailed by Alessio Picariello with 166 points. Martin Rump finished in third place overall with 160 points, followed by Rahel Frey with 157 points and Marchy Lee with 137 points.

 

Hussein Zain

 

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