Luca Engstler won both race of the inaugural TCR Malaysia series at the Sepang Circuit, beating pole-sitter Rob Huff in race one before winning race two in the rain ahead of Kang Byung Hui.
Huff started from pole position after beating Engstler to the top time on Saturday by just under three tenths of a second.
But at the start, under sunny skies and on a dry circuit, the Hyundai driver got a better getaway and led the race before the first corner, whilst Engstler’s team-mate Theo Coicaud pressured Huff for second.
Huff kept Engstler honest for the first laps of the race, as the leading trio extended a gap over the field behind, with Brutal Fish Racing’s Martin Ryba up into fourth by the end of the first lap, from ninth on the grid.
TCR Korea racer Kang Byung Hui was the first retirement of the race on lap four, after the Hyundai driver turned in and was hit by Adam Bin Khaled Emran and subsequently sent into the gravel with damaged suspension. Kang himself had been trying to pass Emran’s Engstler Motorsport team-mate Henry Kwong in front when the incident occurred.
KCMG’s Paul Ip retired on lap four when his Honda’s front-right suspension gave way whilst he was running in seventh, resulting in a brief safety car intervention after Coicaud’s Hyundai also stopped on track with an electrical issue on the same lap.
Racing resumed on lap seven, and on the first lap of the restart Huff kept the pressure on Engstler for victory. But the young German prevailed to win the race ahead of the Brit, despite Huff challenging hard in the subsequent laps with some superb side-by-side racing and light contact between the duo.
Slovak racer Ryba completed the podium after benefitting from Coicaud’s demise, ahead of local racer Douglas Khoo.
Race one result
|1||8||Luca ENGSTLER||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||27:40.759||2:17.983||2|
|2||12||Rob HUFF||TeamWork Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||1.804||2:18.190||1|
|3||17||Martin RYBA||Brutal Fish Racing Team||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||9.539||2:20.422||9|
|4||65||Douglas KHOO Kok Hui||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||11||10.178||2:20.230||8|
|5||3||Kai JORDAN||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||12.528||2:20.306||7|
|6||4||Khalid Adam Bin Khalid EMRAN||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||13.529||2:20.278||6|
|7||9||Henry KWONG Hoi Lung||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||19.331||2:21.413||11|
|8||7||Michael CHOI Koon Ming||Prince Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||11||29.469||2:22.326||10|
|9||2||Kenneth LAU Chi Yung||Prince Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||11||29.513||2:21.491||12|
|10||23||Gary CHEUNG Sui Lung||Maximum Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK2 TCR||11||38.944||2:24.781||13|
|R||27||Theo COICAUD||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||4||DNF||2:18.779||3|
|R||51||Paul IP Kung Ching||KCMG||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||4||DNF||2:21.754||4|
|R||97||KANG Byung Hui||Indigo Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||3||DNF||2:20.808||5|
A deluge ahead of the reverse-grid second race meant that drivers had to contend with significantly different track conditions to the first encounter, as the race ended up being delayed by the tropical conditions.
After a 90-minute delay the race got underway behind the safety car, but still in heavy rain conditions. Malaysian racer Khoo started from pole position, with Kai Jordan alongside, whilst the main protagonists from the first race, Coicaud, Engstler and Huff, would start from sixth, seventh and eighth places respectively.
After three safety car laps, racing began in anger. Khoo led for the first four turns, before Jordan got a better exit from Turn 4 and passed the CUPRA driver on the outside line. Just one corner later and the Viper Niza Racing driver had droipped to fourth behind Emran and Kang as well.
Kang passed Emran at the hairpin further around the lap, putting his Indigo Racing Hyundai in second, whilst Engstler and Huff completed the first lap of racing in third and sixth respectively.
Engstler attempted to pass Kang for second at the final corner on lap five, but the South Korean racer held firm and slight contact was made between the two i30 N drivers. Engstler then completed the pass for second around the outside at Turn 10 on lap six, before snatching the lead from Jordan at the final corner.
Kang took second after getting by Jordan on lap eighth with slight contact, holding the position thereafter to secure a 1-2 finish for Hyundai machinery.
Jordan completed the podium, ahead of Emran and Huff, with the latter Teamworks Motorsport driver failing to feature prominently in the race.
After retiring from race one, KCMG’s Paul Ip took sixth as the best of the Honda drivers.
Khoo finished in seventh, despite being hit by Ryba, who was eighth, on the sixth lap at the final corner.
All 11 drivers who started the race took the chequered flag on the lead lap, with only two non-starters for Coicaud and Maximum Racing’s Gary Cheung in the older-spec Honda FK2.
Race two result
|1||8||Luca ENGSTLER||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||30:41.458||2:33.599||7|
|2||97||KANG Byung Hui||Indigo Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||12.608||2:35.660||4|
|3||3||Kai JORDAN||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||18.646||2:36.590||2|
|4||4||Khalid Adam Bin Khalid EMRAN||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||19.168||2:35.919||3|
|5||12||Rob HUFF||TeamWork Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||27.079||2:37.466||8|
|6||51||Paul IP Kung Ching||KCMG||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||11||32.356||2:37.180||5|
|7||65||Douglas KHOO Kok Hui||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||11||33.508||2:37.221||1|
|8||17||Martin RYBA||Brutal Fish Racing Team||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||36.151||2:37.771||9|
|9||9||Henry KWONG Hoi Lung||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||46.645||2:38.131||11|
|10||7||Michael CHOI Koon Ming||Prince Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||11||47.816||2:36.781||10|
|11||2||Kenneth LAU Chi Yung||Prince Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||11||1:03.771||2:37.140||12|
|NS||27||Theo COICAUD||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||–||DNS||N/A||6|
|NS||23||Gary CHEUNG Sui Lung||Maximum Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK2 TCR||–||DNS||N/A||–|
A double victory for Engstler means he leaves the first event on 54 points, whilst Huff is second on 33 points, Jordan sits in third on 25, Khalid is fourth on 20 points, Kang is fifth on 19 points, tied with Ryba.