Liqui Moly Team Engstler took control in the opening TCR Asia races of the 2017 season in Sepang, with Kantadhee Kusiri leading home a 1-2 in race one, followed by Diego Moran taking victory in race two.
Race one saw Kusiri get off to a clean start to lead ahead of Moran, whilst further back Lai Wee Sing got a superb start to move from the very back of the grid to third position by the first corner.
Elegant Racing’s Eric K became an early victim in the race when he was nerfed into the pit wall as the field accelerated, with Phoenix Racing Asia’s Tong Siu Kau being the guilty party in his new Audi RS3.
That necessitated a brief appearance of the safety car, which also caused some brief confusion between the leaders as Moran passed his team-mate under yellow flag conditions.
When the race resumed after three laps behind the safety car, Kusiri was back in the lead and in control of the race, whilst further back Lai and Tin Sritrai battled for the final podium position.
Eventually on lap 11 Sritrai passed the Audi, to move his Volkswagen up to third and secure a 1-2-3 finish for the German cars.
Lai took fourth, whilst Jasper Thong brought the leading Audi home in fifth ahead of the second R Engineering Honda Civic of Abdul Kaathir in sixth.
Diego Moran wasted no time in getting into the lead in the second race, getting off to a strong start to pass both of the front row Audis to lead by turn one.
Further back, Tin Sritrai was able to pass Tong Siu Kau into Turn 1 to move into second, with the Thai racer making slight contact in the process.
The top three, consisting of Kantadhee Kusiri in third by the halfway stage of the first lap, then made a break from the rest of the field, until Kusiri started to apply significant pressure to fellow Thai racer Sritrai in front.
On lap four Kusiri made slight contact with Sritrai, but was unable to force a pass. Then on lap five Kusiri tried to pass into the final turn, but Sritrai made a late move to defend his position and contact between the two spelled the end of the Engstler Motorsport driver’s race, as he peeled into the pits.
The stewards at the time deemed that no further action would be taken on the incident, whilst Sritrai continued in second for the moment. The Thai driver tried to pass Mortan on the final lap to no avail, and so crossed the finish line in second. After the race, the stewards initial decision was overturned, and Sritrai was handed a post-race 30-second penalty, dropping him to fifth.
That allowed R Engineering duo Lai Wee Sing and Abdul Kaathir to complete the race two podium, ahead of the Audi Hong Kong entry of Jasper Thong in fourth.
Kusiri rejoined the race two laps down, allowing him to score points at least, albeit classified in ninth position.
Pole-sitter Tong ended up having a nightmare first lap, effectively dropping back to the rear of the field by the end of the opening lap. He ultimately went on to battle back to sixth by the end of the race.
Race one result
|1||2||Kantadhee KUSIRI||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||33:31.393||2:16.853||1|
|2||32||Diego MORAN||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||10.027||2:17.653||5|
|3||9||Tin SRITRAI||Team Thailand||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||13||12.131||2:17.600||3|
|4||39||LAI Wee Sing||R Engineering||Honda Civic TCR||13||13.710||2:18.052||10|
|5||5||Jasper THONG Wei Heen||Audi Hong Kong||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||13||18.943||2:18.644||2|
|6||23||Abdul KAATHIR||R Engineering||Honda Civic TCR||13||22.670||2:17.975||9|
|7||99||Alex LIU Lic Ka||Elegant Racing Team||SEAT León TCR||13||34.691||2:19.368||7|
|8||8||TONG Siu Kau||Phoenix Racing Asia||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||13||35.831||2:19.777||6|
|9||65||Douglas KHOO Kok Hui||Viper Niza Racing||SEAT León TCR||13||1:14.166||2:19.422||8|
|R||98||Eric K||Elegant Racing Team||SEAT León TCR||0||DNF||N/A||4|
Race two result
|1||32||Diego MORAN||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||25:38.950||2:18.753||4|
|2||39||LAI Wee Sing||R Engineering||Honda Civic TCR||11||6.990||2:18.706||8|
|3||23||Abdul KAATHIR||R Engineering||Honda Civic TCR||11||9.436||2:18.895||9|
|4||5||Jasper THONG Wei Heen||Audi Hong Kong||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||11||18.538||2:19.553||2|
|5||9||Tin SRITRAI||Team Thailand||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||30.866||2:18.518||3|
|6||8||TONG Siu Kau||Phoenix Racing Asia||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||11||33.076||2:21.213||1|
|7||99||Alex LIU Lic Ka||Elegant Racing Team||SEAT León TCR||11||34.583||2:21.096||6|
|8||65||Douglas KHOO Kok Hui||Viper Niza Racing||SEAT León TCR||11||42.982||2:20.105||7|
|9||2||Kantadhee KUSIRI||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||9||+ 2 LAPS||2:18.423||5|
|NS||98||Eric K||Elegant Racing Team||SEAT León TCR||–||DNS||N/A||–|