- Audi Sport Team Absolute Racing becomes first-ever Asian factory team for Intercontinental GT Challenge round 3 in Japan
- Audi Sport Team WRT enters two-car challenge as Audi bids to strengthen lead in manufacturer title chase
- R8 LMS Cup stars join five-strong Audi entry
Absolute Racing has become the first-ever Asian-based operation to be made an official Audi factory team. Audi Sport Team Absolute Racing will join Audi Sport Team WRT as the brand with the four rings bids to strengthen its seven-point lead in the Intercontinental GT Challenge manufacturer standings at the Suzuka 10 Hours from August 24 to 26.
“It is great to see the European and Asian motorsport platforms of Audi joining forces for the prestigious Suzuka 10 Hours,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “Congratulations to Absolute Racing on their debut as an official Audi factory team. The appointment bears testimony to the success and development of Asian racing outfits over the past few years.”
At the Intercontinental GT Challenge’s first visit to Japan, Audi Sport will enter three factory-backed Audi R8 LMS GT3s. Audi Sport Team Absolute Racing has announced its line-up of Christopher Haase and Markus Winkelhock of Germany, and 22-year-old South African Kelvin van der Linde. Audi Sport Team WRT, meanwhile, enters two Audi R8 LMS GT3s. Frédéric Vervisch joins Christopher Mies and Dries Vanthoor, an Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup race winner in Shanghai last season. The second car will see Jake Dennis, winner of the final round of the 2017 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup in Zhejiang, join fellow Briton Stuart Leonard and Sheldon van der Linde, younger brother of Kelvin.
Absolute Racing will also run a privateer entry for Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup driver mentors Cheng Congfu and Adderly Fong, and 2017 Am Cup vice champion, Sun Jingzu.
Reigning Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup champion Alessio Picariello, who won the title with Absolute Racing last season, is part of a three-man crew entered by Audi Japan-supported Audi Team Hitotsuyama for the Suzuka 10 Hours. The 24-year-old Belgian is joined by the team’s regular drivers in the Japanese Super GT series, Richard Lyons and Ryuichiro Tomita.
The Suzuka 10 Hours, the third round of the four-event 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge, gets underway on Friday, August 24, with free practice sessions. Each driver will complete one qualifying session on Saturday, after which a single-lap shootout will determine the first 20 grid positions. The race gets underway at 10am local time on Sunday, August 26.