Tony Bates is expecting to be challenged by highly intense physical and mental demands, when the Audi R8 LMS Cup resumes at the world-famous Suzuka circuit in Japan for Rounds 7 and 8 this weekend.

The LMS Cup will be the major support act for the Suzuka 10 Hour endurance race, and Bates heads into the weekend third in points aboard his Moveitnet/Local Roadways/C-Tech Laser/AFS/Bryant & Bryant Audi R8.

“To be third in the standings at this stage is not bad, considering we’ve had a few missed opportunities this year, but I’m excited for this weekend,” Bates said.

“I’ve grown up watching some epic Formula 1 races at Suzuka, including some championship deciders, so it’s going to be very cool to race there myself.

“It won’t be an easy track to learn; it has some very technical direction changes and a lot of variations in elevation. The local R8 Cup drivers have already raced there, so I’ve been working on the simulator to gain as much knowledge as I can.”

Bates underwent neck surgery following the previous round of the series in Shanghai, but has made a rapid recovery. While he’s confident his neck won’t be a hindrance during the event, he said it will be physically demanding for other reasons.

“I don’t see my neck being too much of an issue, but the races are going to be a test of endurance, because the weather here is extremely hot,” he said.

“It’s been well over 30 degrees each day, which will make it tough in the car. In saying that, I managed to win a race in 40-degree heat in Adelaide, so maybe it’s a good omen!”

With his regular race engineer Paul Ceprnich unavailable due to a conflicting commitment, Bates has secured a well-credentialled replacement in the form of Supercars Championship-winning engineer Erik Pender.

“Erik is very switched on, he knows these Audis inside and out, and has recorded some terrific achievements at the very top level of the sport; I’m excited to be working with him,” Bates said.

Practice for the R8 LMS Cup will be held on Thursday afternoon.

Weekend Schedule

*Australian time

Thursday, 22 August

3:00pm – Practice 1 (45 min)

5:00pm – Practice 2 (45 min)

Friday, 23 August

2:10pm – Round 7 Qualifying (15 min)

2:35pm – Round 8 Qualifying (15 min)

6:25pm – Round 7 (30 min)

Saturday, 24 August

4:00pm – Round 8 (30 min)

Where to Watch

Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup website

Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup Facebook page