Luca Engstler picked up where he left off in the TCR Asia series, claiming a comfortable victory in the first race of the season at the Sepang International Circuit ahead of Liqui Moly Team Engstler team-mate Theo Coicaud.
Engstler led the race from lights-to-flag and was never really challenged, despite having to build up his lead a second time after it was wiped out on lap three by a brief safety car intervention.
Coicaud took second, but the young Frenchman made his life difficult when at the start he bogged down off the line, dropping from second on the grid to 11th position.
The Hyundai driver fought back during the race, getting himself into fifth by the end of the opening lap, before moving up to fourth just before the safety car came out on lap three.
Coicaud then passed Solite Indigo Racing’s Pepe Oriola on lap five just after the restart, moving up to third where he would spend the next four laps.
Eventually Coicaud passed Ecuadorian Diego Moran for second on lap nine, but he was unable to catch team-mate Engstler to pressure for the win.
Moran brought his Volkswagen Golf home in third to complete the podium, ahead of Oriola in fourth on his TCR Asia début.
Reigning TCR Thailand champion Jakraphan Davee was fifth in the leading CUPRA, ahead of series newcomer Daniel Miranda in sixth in the best of the Eurasia Motorsport Hyundais.
Engstler Motorsport’s Malaysian rookie Adam Khalid was seventh in the second of the Volkswagens, having passed Solite Indigo Racing’s Kim Jin Soo for the position on lap six.
TCR Asia regular Douglas Khoo and newcomer Gao Hua Yang completed the top ten in their CUPRA and Hyundai respectively.
The safety car had been called upon after two laps when David Lau’s Teamwork Motorsport Audi stopped in the middle of the track, after contact from the Volkswagen of Roland Hertner, who himself limped to the pits for repairs.
Alex Hui failed to start the race in the other Teamwork Audi.
Race two takes place at 09:50 local time (02:50 BST, 03:50 CEST) on Sunday.
|1||1||Luca ENGSTLER||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||26:48.481||2:17.572||1|
|2||27||Theo COICAUD||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||4.658||2:17.741||2|
|3||23||Diego MORAN||Volkswagen Team Oettinger||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||6.168||2:17.887||4|
|4||74||Pepe ORIOLA||Solite Indigo Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||10.714||2:18.631||3|
|5||33||Jakraphan DAVEE||AlphaFactory Racing Team by Pulzar||CUPRA TCR||11||15.852||2:19.037||5|
|6||20||Daniel MIRANDA||Eurasia Motorsport||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||17.837||2:18.890||9|
|7||4||Adam KHALID||Volkswagen Team Oettinger||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||17.956||2:18.550||8|
|8||97||KIM Jin Soo||Solite Indigo Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||19.846||2:19.352||7|
|9||65||Douglas KHOO Kok Hui||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||11||30.517||2:20.015||11|
|10||30||GAO Hua Yang||Eurasia Motorsport||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||36.105||2:20.875||14|
|11||7||Michael CHOI Koon Ming||Prince Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||11||36.622||2:21.196||12|
|12||3||Roland HERTNER||Volkswagen Team Oettinger||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||10||+ 1 LAP||2:20.599||10|
|R||36||David LAU||Teamwork Motorsport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||1||DNF||N/A||13|
|R||2||Kenneth LAU||Prince Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||1||DNF||N/A||15|
|NS||11||Alex HUI Ka Tai||Teamwork Motorsport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||–||DNS||N/A||6|