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Franz Engstler confirms WTCC exit after Macau

Franz Engstler has confirmed that the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) races around Macau will be his last in the series, with the experienced German not yet able to confirm his 2015 plans.

Engstler has raced in the WTCC full-time since the 2008 season, having made his first foray into the series as a driver in 2007 at the Circuito da Guia. His Engstler Motorsport concern actually first appeared at the season finale in 2005, and has always raced with BMW machinery.

Since entering the German team have run cars for an incredible 19 different drivers, developing a reputation for putting out additional cars for local drivers during the end of season Asian events. Engstler himself also scored a memorable outright victory at Oschersleben in 2011 – one of only two podium visits the German made in his 166 WTCC races.

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“For seven full years we raced in the WTCC, now we want to find a new direction,” said Engstler. “With the world championship of the TC2 class I have given myself and the team the best gift at the end.”

Engstler admits that his time in the WTCC was not without its ups and downs, with the German experiencing low points in Macau and Pau in 2009, the latter when he infamously collided with the safety car whilst leading the race.

“I crashed straight into the side of a fellow competitor on the start-finish straight after they had been involved in another accident,” remembers Engstler of Macau 2009. Engstler also remembers the infamous safety car crash of earlier that season. “It was something that you could never forget in a lifetime – I was leading the whole field and suddenly the safety car pulled out over the white line. I had no chance.”

Engstler also admits that leaving the WTCC with a double class victory in Macau was a good way to end his tenure in the series, with the team owner / driver being the eighth most experienced driver in the field at the time of writing.

“The race in Macau was a great departure for me. Of course I am pleased with the double victory and of course I once again enjoyed driving through this narrow and twisty street course – Macau happens to be one of my favourite tracks.”

The squad had faced a great deal of uncertainty over their future with BMW’s lack of support for the current-day WTCC, leaving Engstler to field a pair of old 320 TC cars in the TC2 category in 2014.

The German has now confirmed that this weekend’s races were his last in the WTCC, but the 53-year-old is not ready to hang up his helmet just yet.

“We will soon make it known what Liqui Moly Team Engstler will do in 2015,” concluded Engstler. “We will certainly not go into retirement yet.”

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