Luca Engstler claimed victory in both of Saturday’s TCR Malaysia races in Sepang, with the German retaining his title in the Asian series after coming from behind in the season finale.
Engstler went into the weekend 21 points adrift of series leader Dan Lloyd, but a double win and claiming pole position earlier in the day saw him overturn that deficit to draw level on points.
The German thus claimed the title for the second year running by virtue of having claimed more race wins than his rival.
From pole position in race one, Engstler made a strong start and opened up a lead throughout the race, whilst behind him Lloyd, Mitchell Cheah and Josh Files battled for second.
The trio made contact several times in the battle, which saw Files, this weekend racing a Hyundai Veloster N, taking second on the opening lap but going on to lose the position on lap four, when contact with Lloyd dropped him to fifth.
That gave Lloyd a clear run to second, limiting the damage to his then-series lead, whilst Cheah, returning to the series for the first time since 2019, claimed the final podium position.
Cheah’s Malaysian compatriot Gilbert Ang attempted to take the final podium from the Hyundai Team Engstler driver, but was unable to and finished fourth after a race-long battle.
Kim Jin Soo took fifth in his Solite Indigo Racing Hyundai, ahead of Viper Niza Racing’s Freddie Ang in sixth, the duo making progress when Files dropped back further.
Files, who finished seventh, protested against the contact with Lloyd, whilst Lloyd protested about contact with Cheah, resulting in suspended 30-second penalties for the latter two.
In the reverse-grid race, Engstler lined up in eighth, just one place behind Lloyd, but knew that he had to finish ahead of his rival to have a chance of the title.
Douglas Khoo started from pole position, but it was Kim who took the lead in his Hyundai on the opening lap.
Meanwhile, Engstler, Lloyd, Files, Cheah and Gilbert Ang continued to battle in the pack as they progressed to the front, with Engstler emerging as the leader at the end of the first lap.
Lloyd had been second for the first two laps, which would have been enough for him to take the title, but on lap three he lost the position to a charging Cheah, who had passed Files a lap earlier.
Files had been running in fourth for much of the race, but on lap ten he passed both Lloyd and Cheah to claim second, the move effectively ending Lloyd’s title chances.
Cheah in the end held on to a podium again, whilst Lloyd was fourth – leaving him level on points with Engstler but not having had enough wins (one) to his German rivals four.
Gilbert Ang was fifth in the leading CUPRA, ahead of Kim in sixth, Freddie Ang in seventh and Douglas Khoo in eighth.
Prince Racing’s Tommy Ku was the only retirement of the race in a field of nine cars.
Race one result
|1||1||Luca ENGSTLER||Hyundai Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||25:19.485||2:16.783||1|
|2||123||Daniel LLOYD||Brutal Fish Racing Team||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||11||5.053||2:16.338||2|
|3||27||Mitchell CHEAH Min Jie||Hyundai Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||8.240||2:16.490||3|
|4||36||Gilbert ANG||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||11||8.924||2:17.084||5|
|5||97||KIM Jin Soo||Solite Indigo Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||18.740||2:17.997||7|
|6||3||Freddie ANG||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||11||20.299||2:18.232||6|
|7||99||Josh FILES||Solite Indigo Racing||Hyundai Veloster N TCR||11||27.619||2:16.913||4|
|8||65||Douglas KHOO Kok Hui||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||11||1:08.511||2:20.655||9|
|R||8||Tommy KU Siu Lam||Prince Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||7||DNF||2:20.887||8|
Race two result
|1||1||Luca ENGSTLER||Hyundai Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||25:38.858||2:17.802||8|
|2||99||Josh FILES||Solite Indigo Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||6.905||2:18.596||5|
|3||27||Mitchell CHEAH Min Jie||Hyundai Team Engstler||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||7.355||2:17.358||6|
|4||123||Daniel LLOYD||Brutal Fish Racing Team||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||11||8.077||2:18.783||7|
|5||36||Gilbert ANG||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||11||8.670||2:17.715||4|
|6||97||KIM Jin Soo||Solite Indigo Racing||Hyundai i30 N TCR||11||9.808||2:18.794||2|
|7||3||Freddie ANG||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||11||16.370||2:18.647||3|
|8||65||Douglas KHOO Kok Hui||Viper Niza Racing||CUPRA TCR||11||51.657||2:22.328||1|
|R||8||Tommy KU Siu Lam||Prince Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||9||DNF||2:22.812||9|