Diego Moran keeps title tilt alive as Luca Engstler fights back

Diego Moran kept his TCR Asia title chances alive with victory in race one on the Bangsaen Street Circuit in Thailand, after pole-sitter and series leader Luca Engstler spun on lap one and fought his way back to second.

Engstler led the field through Turn 1 on the first lap, but the German spun his Hyundai at Turn 2 and dropped to seventh.

That allowed Solite Indigo Racing’s Pepe Oriola to assume the lead ahead of Moran, but the Spaniard would later be penalised for a jump start and handed a drive-through penalty, dropping him out of contention.

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Ecuadorian Moran found himself leading the race ahead of Engstler, who had recovered from his earlier spin.

The series leader was lucky, however, after a safety car was sent out when Jakraphan Davee, Douglas Khoo and David Lau all stalled their cars when trying to avoid Engstler, allowing all four to continue.

With nine laps to go Moran was leading Engstler and Kim Jin Soo, until the latter crashed heavily at the roundabout chicane, bouncing back into the path of the chasing Daniel Miranda and Davee.

The race was immediately halted and not resumed, as the three cars were significantly damaged, with Miranda’s Hyundai catching fire almost immediately after the impact.

That meant Gao Hua Yang inherited a first TCR Asia podium in third, ahead of Roland Hertner in fourth and Douglas Khoo in fifth.

Engstler holds a 25-point lead heading into Sunday’s race, with only 25 available for a win. Even if Moran was to claim victory and Engstler retire, without any form of further points penalty, Engstler would clinch the title – with a second title effectively inevitable at this stage.

Race two is at 12:45 local time (06:45 BST, 07:45 CEST) on Sunday.

Race result

1 23 Diego MORAN Liqui Moly Team Engstler Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 26:08.234 1:43.703 3
2 1 Luca ENGSTLER Liqui Moly Team Engstler Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 0.950 1:41.294 1
3 30 GAO Hua Yang Eurasia Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 4.092 1:44.101 7
4 3 Roland HERTNER Volkswagen Team Oettinger Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 10 5.026 1:47.836 9
5 65 Douglas KHOO Kok Hui Viper Niza Racing CUPRA TCR 10 6.595 1:49.074 8
6 74 Pepe ORIOLA Solite Indigo Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 7.606 1:44.108 2
7 36 David LAU Teamwork Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR 10 9.198 1:50.285 11
R 97 KIM Jin Soo Solite Indigo Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR 6 DNF 1:43.785 6
R 20 Daniel MIRANDA Eurasia Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR 6 DNF 1:43.703 5
R 33 Jakraphan DAVEE AlphaFactory Racing Team by Pulzar CUPRA TCR 6 DNF 1:43.738 4
R 4 Adam KHALID Volkswagen Team Oettinger Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 4 DNF 1:51.606 10
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