Mitchell Cheah claims victory as Luca Engstler retires from lead

Mitchell Cheah claims victory as Luca Engstler retires from lead

Mitchell Cheah
Photo: TSS

Mitchell Cheah claimed victory in the opening TCR Asia race of the weekend at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, as dominant early leader Luca Engstler was hit with what appeared to be a late-race puncture.

Engstler got off to by far the best start when the lights went out, opening up a lead of over five seconds before the end of the opening lap.

The German then appeared to be in control of the race as his Liqui Moly Team Engstler team-mates behind fought between themselves, before he suffered from a puncture with just two laps to go.

That dropped Engstler out of the top ten as he limped to the pits, handing Cheah a lead which he had to defend heavily in the final two laps from Ecuadorian Diego Moran.

Moran had just three laps earlier attempted a pass on his Malaysian team-mate but ran too deep into the corner in the process, handing Cheah the position back which, despite Moran’s best efforts, he was unable to reclaim.

Victory for Cheah is his second of the season, allowing him to extend the two-point advantage he had over Engstler heading to Buriram.

Moran claimed second whilst the final podium position went to the leading TCR Thailand entry of Pattarapol Vongprai.

Maximum Racing’s Lo Sze Ho took fourth, having made a successful pass on Elegant Racing’s Alex Liu Lic Ka on lap 11.

BBR’s Chariya Nuya was fifth, and second in the TCR Thailand class, after also getting past Liu late in the race, leaving Liu to claim sixth in his CUPRA.

Liu’s team-mate Kelvin Wong finished in seventh, ahead of Jakraphan Davee in eighth. The Alphafactory Racing driver got off to a strong start when the lights went out, initially moving up from fifth on the grid to second, before he slid wide at three consecutive corners and dropped to ninth by the end of the first lap.

TBN MK’s Nattachak Hanjitkasem was ninth in her Honda Civic, whilst Viper Niza Racing’s Douglas Khoo completed the top ten.

The second combined TCR Asia and TCR Thailand race takes place at 15:05 local time (09:05 BST, 10:05 CEST) on Sunday.

Race result

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
1 29 Mitchell CHEAH Min Jie Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 15 26:21.180 1:44.769 3
2 32 Diego MORAN Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 15 0.169 1:44.768 2
3 59 Pattarapol VONGPRAI Vattana Motorsport Honda Civic TCR 2017 15 12.450 1:45.900 7
4 28 LO Sze Ho Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR 2016 15 13.502 1:45.701 12
5 15 Chariya NUYA Billionaire Boy Racing (BBR) Honda Civic TCR 2017 15 15.807 1:45.952 6
6 3 Alex LIU Lic Ka Elegant Racing Team SEAT León TCR SEQ V2 15 17.292 1:45.534 4
7 33 Kelvin WONG Kiang Kuan Elegant Racing Team SEAT León TCR SEQ V2 15 24.026 1:46.251 9
8 133 Jakraphan DAVEE Alphafactory Racing Team by Pulzar SEAT León TCR DSG V3 15 29.260 1:46.241 5
9 66 Nattachak HANJITKASEM TBN MK ihear Racing Team Honda Civic TCR 2017 15 32.139 1:46.682 13
10 65 Douglas KHOO Kok Hui Viper Niza Racing SEAT León TCR SEQ V3 15 41.630 1:45.640 8
11 5 Clement TONG Yat Him Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR 2017 15 43.734 1:46.555 10
12 96 Nattanid LEEWATTANAVARAGUL Morin Racing Team by Sunoco SEAT León TCR DSG V3 15 1:12.113 1:46.399 11
R 8 Luca ENGSTLER Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 14 DNF 1:44.384 1