Luca Engstler claims TCR Middle East title in Bahrain

Luca Engstler claims TCR Middle East title in Bahrain

Luca Engstler
Photo: TCR Media

Luca Engstler claimed the TCR Middle East title in the third and final meeting in Bahrain, after taking victory in the opening race which was held in unusually heavy rain resulting in the second race being cancelled.

Engstler had earlier secured the advantage in the title race by putting his Volkswagen Golf on pole position in Friday’s qualifying session, whilst rival Giacomo Altoè could only manage fourth on the grid.

The young German then took control at the start of race one, which also saw two extra formation laps due to the rain, which intensified as the race went on.

Engstler took his third win of the season by controlling the tricky conditions, which also had the additional dimension of being held at night time.

Second went to Liqui Moly Team Engstler team-mate Florian Thoma, who got past Altoè for third on lap eight before passing Lorenzo Veglia for second on lap 12.

Pit Lane Competizioni’s Altoè completed the podium, unable to do anything to stop Engstler clinching the title in the opening race of the weekend. In the end, Engstler secured the title by 27 points from the Italian.

Spaniard Jordi Oriola took fourth for Pit Lane Competizioni, having benefitted late in the race when Veglia aquaplaned out of fourth on lap 18, shortly after having been passed by Altoè for the final podium position.

In the end Veglia crossed the finish line to take fifth, ahead of front-row starter Kai Jordan, who had got off to a poor start, took sixth in his Volkswagen Golf GTi.

Bahraini local Nasser Al Alawi, getting his first taste of TCR this weekend, was seventh, one lap down, ahead of Slovakian racer Martin Ryba in eighth.

Raed Himmo was the only retirement of the race after the Bahraini driver went off on lap 13 and got his Volkswagen beached in the gravel.

With the rain intensifying into the evening and the title already decided, the race officials took the decision to cancel the second race of the weekend, marking the end of the 2018 TCR Middle East series season in unusual fashion.

Race one result

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME/GAP BEST GD
1 8 Luca ENGSTLER Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 23 29:41.811 1:15.651 1
2 39 Florian THOMA Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 23 5.937 1:15.960 3
3 10 Giacomo ALTOÈ Pit Lane Competizioni 1 Audi RS3 LMS TCR DSG 23 19.508 1:13.571 4
4 21 Jordi ORIOLA Pit Lane Competizioni 2 Volkswagen Golf GTi DSG 23 20.156 1:16.518 6
5 44 Lorenzo VEGLIA Pit Lane Competizioni 2 Volkswagen Golf GTi DSG 23 20.745 1:16.334 5
6 13 Kai JORDAN H&R Spezialfedern Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 23 26.169 1:16.134 2
7 7 Nasser AL ALWAI Pit Lane Competizioni 1 Volkswagen Golf GTi DSG 22 + 1 LAP 1:19.616 8
8 17 Martin RYBA Brutal Fish Racing Team Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 22 + 1 LAP 1:18.535 7
R 55 Raed HIMMO Pit Lane Competizioni 1 Volkswagen Golf GTi DSG 12 DNF 1:19.108 9