Mitchell Cheah took victory in the opening TCR Malaysia race of the season finale weekend in Sepang, as Liqui Moly Team Engstler team-mate Luca Engstler secured the title by finishing in second.
At the start Cheah got away well but had to defend from a fast-starting Engstler, who tried to pass around the outside at Turn 1 in his Hyundai.
Local racer Cheah held his line though, and the young Malaysian was able to open up a gap thereafter to take a lights-to-flag victory on his return to TCR touring car racing, after finishing as the TCR Asia series runner-up last year.
Engstler was a comfortable second and took the title after his only challenger for the crown, team-mate Kai Jordan, was eliminated from the race on the second lap.
Jordan had been battling to pass Malaysia’s Douglas Khoo when the pair made contact on lap two as Jordan attempted to go around the outside of the CUPRA driver at Turn 13. The Volkswagen made contact with the wheel of his rival, pitching Jordan off circuit with damage and out of the race.
KCMG owner Paul Ip was a comfortable third, having assumed the position on the first lap, ahead of Malaysian local Mark Darwin in fourth.
Prince Racing’s Kenneth Lau was fifth in his Honda Civic, ahead of Slovakian racer Martin Ryba in his Brutal Fish Racing Volkswagen. Ryba had briefly run in fourth after the Jordan – Khoo incident, but immediately slipped back.
At one stage there was a fierce battle for fifth between Lau and Russian newcomer Andrei Abaluev, but the latter suffered from a technical issue in his Viper Niza Racing CUPRA and ultimately retired after nine laps.
A trio of Hong Kong racers were next up, with the second Prince Racing Honda of Michael Choi in seventh, ahead of the fourth Engstler Motorsport car of Michael Soong in eighth. Cherry Cheung was ninth on Teamwork Motorsport’s return to the series and on her début in the category.
Engstler is thus crowned as the champion with 117.5 points, ahead of Jordan on 56 points with the season finale of the new series still to take place on Sunday (17:15 local time, 10:15 CET, 09:15 GMT).
Race one result
|1||29||Mitchell CHEAH Min Jie||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||25:33.202||2:17.836||1|
|2||8||Luca ENGSTLER||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||2.079||2:17.834||3|
|3||51||Paul IP Kung Ching||KCMG||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||11||12.292||2:18.824||4|
|4||11||Mark DARWIN||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||13.941||2:19.024||10|
|5||2||Kenneth LAU Chi Yung||Prince Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||11||36.602||2:19.625||7|
|6||17||Martin RYBA||Brutal Fish Racing Team||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||36.608||2:20.110||11|
|7||7||Michael CHOI Koon Ming||Prince Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||11||41.473||2:20.470||8|
|8||26||Michael John SOONG||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||42.945||2:21.268||9|
|9||10||Cherry CHEUNG Ying||Teamwork Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||53.064||2:21.136||12|
|10||65||Douglas KHOO Kok Hui||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||10||+ 1 LAP||2:19.051||2|
|R||80||Andrei ABALUEV||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||9||DNF||2:19.468||6|
|R||3||Kai JORDAN||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||1||DNF||2:23.105||5|