Luca Engstler claims victory in opening TCR Asia race

Luca Engstler claims victory in opening TCR Asia race

Luca Engstler
Photo: TCR Asia

Luca Engstler claimed victory in the first TCR Asia series race of the season at Sepang in Malaysia, finishing ahead of Liqui Moly Team Engstler team-mate Mitchell Cheah.

At the start of the race the young German, who had on Saturday smashed the qualifying lap record, got off to a clean start to lead into Turn 1, a position which he would then hold for the duration of the race.

Cheah spun the wheels on his Golf GTi at the start, which allowed team-mate Diego Moran to get past, whilst Maximum Racing’s Lo Sze Ho jumped from fourth on the grid into second.

However a slide for the Hong Kong racer at the second corner then dropped him back behind Moran to fourth.

But the Ecuadorian, then running in third, was hit with a drive-through penalty for a breach of the rules at the start, which dropped him down to tenth when he eventually served the penalty on lap eight.

That left the top three as Engstler, Cheah and Ho, who would hold the podium positions until the chequered flag, with Engstler winning by a comfortable 1.5-second margin.

Fourth went to Honda Civic racer Akash Nandy, ahead of his R Engineering team-mate Abdul Kaathir, who was the leading Cup driver in the race.

Vattana Motorsport’s Pattarapol Vongprai was the best of the TCR Thailand drivers in sixth, having got past early class leader Chariya Nuya on lap eight. The Bilionair Boys Racing driver would hold on to finish in seventh and second in class.

Nattanid Leewattanavaragul was the leading SEAT driver in eighth, ahead of Moran, who recovered just one position after his penalty, and Elegant Racing’s Kelvin Wong in tenth.

The only retirement of the race came on lap two when Maximum Racing’s Ivan Szeto went off into the gravel in his Honda Civic with an apparent technical problem, going off on entry to the corner and stopping just centimetres short of the barriers.

Race two takes place at 16:00 local time (09:00 BST, 10:00 CEST).