> Silver Cup crew Chen and Couto confirmed for all six rounds
The Audi Sport Asia-supported Tianshi Racing Team has become the second Chinese squad to announce a 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia entry after confirming David Chen and André Couto as its full-season Silver Cup pairing.
The Zhuhai-based outfit is one of China’s most accomplished teams thanks to its regular continent-wide appearances in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup, Asian Le Mans Series and China GT Championship. Equally, it has also already gained race experience of the new-for-2019 Evo-spec Audi R8 during the ALMS’s Sepang season finale in February.
Up-and-coming Chinese driver Chen claimed the 2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup Am+ crown with TSRT before switching to China GT and ALMS. Two second place finishes, again aboard a TSRT-prepared Audi, helped him finish third in Asian Le Mans Series’ 2018/19 GT class points after previously finding time to make a one-off Blancpain GT Series Asia appearance at Shanghai with Anstone Racing last September. Those performances have also earned him a place on Audi Sport Asia’s 2019 driver roster.
“I am really happy to join Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia in partnership with TSRT, Audi Sport Customer Racing Asia and my team-mate André Couto,” he said. “I believe we have a strong line-up and the right formula to win. Podiums will always be our target and I’m sure it will be an exciting season.”
Couto, meanwhile, returns to the series full-time this year after making his first appearance during 2018’s Ningbo season finale. The Macanese driver is best known for winning the Macau Grand Prix on home soil in 2000 and Super GT’s GT300 crown in 2015.
“I’m very happy to be part of this project to race in Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia with TSRT,” he said. “I’ll be team-mates with David Chan and I believe we can do good things in this championship. Our focus is to improve day-by-day as we get to know each other better. Race wins will always be our goal and we will work for it! We know the level of competition is very high but we are up for the challenge!”
Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia, added: “TSRT has quickly earned a reputation as a highly-professional and successful Chinese outfit. We are excited to have them in the Audi motorsport family. David Chen is a very focused, up-and-coming Chinese driver and André Couto a proven professional with lots of Audi R8 LMS GT3 experience. It is good to see such a capable entry for Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia.”
TSRT joins JR-M on the list of Chinese teams making full-season Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia debuts in 2019. More are expected to follow before Sepang hosts this year’s opening round on April 6/7.