News

15
July
2018

Bangsaen turmoil opens up TCR Asia title battle

As it did 12-months prior, the Bangsaen Grand Prix round of the 2018 TCR Asia Series delivered an unpredictable result, with a number of title favourites faltering whilst in race winning positions, it was just one of those weekends. Ultimately victory was shared between experienced TCR Thailand competitor Pattarapol Vongprai, and Hong Kong’s Lo Sze Ho, but just as it was in 2017, the big winner in Thailand was the Bangsaen Grand Prix itself..

In a repeat performance of last year, practice and qualifying was dominated by Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s lead driver - emerging German star Luca Engstler - the driver of the #8 Volkswagen Golf GTi in a league all of his own by the time qualifying began, the teenager producing a performance reminiscent of that delivered by 2017 champion-elect Kantadhee Kusiri.

Sadly though, despite cruising to the top qualifying position in both sessions, Engstler would fail to record a finish any better than sixth, whilst for team-mates Mitchell Cheah and Diego Moran, they would make the podium in round six, but both were retirements from round five, Cheah though - despite the setback - retains the championship points lead heading to China for the final two events of the season.

For the Elegant Racing Team, their consistency and TCR experience delivered another 1-2 finish for TCR Asia, the Macanese team prevailing in round five as their rivals faltered around them, the two immaculate Seat Leon TCRs crossing the line immediately behind a trio of experienced local drivers to take top honours for TCR Asia, with a recovering Luca Engstler ultimately third after a mid race drive through penalty for a starting infringement.

Whilst race one was impacted by retirements and penalties, race two saw an outstanding battle for the lead between the three Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagens and Honda’s Lo Sze Ho, a race ultimately settled in the Hong Kong driver’s favour after a rare DNF for Engstler who at that stage had fought through from rear of field to second, the young German suffering brake failure down at turn eight whilst fighting for the lead.

With race one winner Pattarapol Vongprai bringing out the safety car after his own incident in trying desperately to get past Jakraphan Davee, the field was bunched up for a final run to the flag, with Lo Sze Ho prevailing to claim his maiden win of the season ahead of the recovering Diego Moran and Mitchell Cheah, the latter of whom had returned to the top of the points table with Engstler’s retirement.

Round#5 (15-laps)
12 months ago all the action of the opening TCR Asia Series race at Bangsaen happened off the start, and it was the start where the action began again this year. Despite making it through to turn two with the field intact this year, almost immediately word came that the two front row starting cars of Engstler and Lo Sze Ho, along with Viper Niza Racing’s Douglas Khoo - had been out of position at the start, incurring drive through penalties as a result.

As it was, pole man Engstler didn’t enjoy the perfect start with Lo jumping past him off the line to lead into turn one, but very quickly the young German returned to the front of the field.

Sadly lap one also saw the demise of round four winner Diego Moran, the Ecuadorian unable to even make the start after a left side driveshaft failure on his out lap, the fan favourite forced to watch the race unfold from the pit area, where he was soon joined by team-mate and points leader Mitchell Cheah who had a tough run down the beachfront clipping the barriers at turn 17 on lap four.

At that stage Luca Engstler was clear of Lo with Vattana Motorsport’s Pattarapol Vongprai third as the safety car brought the field back under control. Nattanid Leewattanavaragul was a gallant fourth ahead of Davee, Kelvin Wong and Douglas Khoo before Wong and Khoo came into contact at turn two, dropping them both back down the order ahead of the restart.

With word out that their penalties were in place, the leaders were due down pit lane, and whilst Ensgtler dived in behind the safety car, Lo missed the challenging pit entry, then dropped back to fourth as Vongprai, Leewattanavaragul and Davee dived past, the Maximum Racing driver electing to stay out and circulate at the front hoping he could effect the crossover on Engstler with the German battling back through the backmarkers after his stop.

Ultimately it wasn’t to be, Lo pitting as late as he dared without incurring any further penalties, the Hong Kong driver dropping to rear of field as a result.

Up front though, despite immense pressure from Leewattanavaragul, Vongprai held on to take the outright win and top honours for TCR Thailand, with Leewattanavaragul continuing her strong 2017 Bangsaen form to be second with Davee third.

Alex Liu claimed fourth outright and top honours in TCR Asia, leading home team-mate Kelvin Wong and the recovering Engstler, who worked his way through the tail end of the field after his drive-through penalty to claim third, in the process, taking the championship points lead.

Round#6 (15-laps)
The start is the key to the challenging Bangsaen circuit, and round six proved that point once again with pole-sitter Kelvin Wong bogging down the #30 Elegant Racing Team Seat, the field swamping him on the run into turn two with team-mate Alex Liu holding the point.

Sadly his time at the front too was short-lived, a bold overtaking move by a charging Mitchell Cheah seeing the round five winner in the barriers at turn 15 allowing Lo Sze Ho into second, with Diego Moran and Luca Engstler in close pursuit.

The top four drivers were locked together in a fantastic display of street fighting, the four TCR Asia front runners pulling away from the battle for top TCR Thailand honours between Davee, Vongprai and Leetwattanavaragul, which was just as intense as the fight at the front of the field.

Lo was on a mission and clearly carrying more pace in the Honda than Cheah’s Volkswagen, the Hong Kong driver making an early move through to the lead at turn 18 before Cheah fired back on the exit to regain the lead, in the process opening the door for Engstler and Moran to attack, Lo dropping back to third as Engstler moved forward to attack Cheah for the lead.

Sadly for the young German, his plans - and his championship points lead - came unstuck at turn eight, running straight on at the 90 degree right-hander and into the barriers with brake failure.

That allowed Lo back to second and in his second attempt to take Cheah at turn 18, he was able to close the door on the exit and lead, with Moran then looking to take the fight to his young Malaysian team-mate.

Sadly Alex Liu was out no long after, the round five winner making heavy contact with the barriers to limp into retirement with the left front of the car wearing signs of the heavy impact.

Leewattanavargul was the next to strike trouble, tagging the rear of Vongprai on the run into turn 18, the Seat driver though recovering from her run into the barriers to rejoin the field, but well back from her fight with her TCR Thailand rivals, Davee still managing to keep a frustrated Vongprai at bay. That situation didn’t last too much longer, Vongprai making a desperate move down at turn one soon after, the Vattana Motorsport driver clearly carrying good pace but unable to effect a move - sadly turn one wasn’t the charm, the Honda making contact with the rear of Davee and then the barriers to find immediate retirement with broken steering.

Up front Mitchell Cheah faced increased pressure from his Ecuadorian team-mate, with Moran finally forcing an error to move through to the lead at turn two ahead of a safety car intervention to recover Vongprai’s Honda.

That closed the field up once again, negating a lead of almost ten seconds by Lo, but on the restart the Honda driver again drove away from the two Volkswagen drivers, with Moran holding on for second, and Cheah third to regain the championship points lead, with Lo now just three points behind after his maiden TCR victory.

Davee held on for fourth and top honours for TCR Thailand, whilst Kelvin Wong recovered from his tough start to be fifth ahead of Hanjitkasem, Leewattanavaragul and Douglas Khoo.

Sadly for Chariya Nuya, the reigning TCR Thailand champion suffered a Bangsaen round to forget with a litany of problems, including contact with the barriers, he would ultimately be classified last of the finishers, four laps down on the race leaders.

For the TCR Asia Series, focus now turns to South Korea with rounds seven and eight alongside the new TCR Korea championship at Korea International Circuit on 25-26 August, before returning to China on 4-5 October for the season finale at Shanghai International Circuit alongside TCR China.

Keep up to date with the 2018 TCR Asia Series through the Series website - www.asia.tcr-series.com - through Facebook; www.facebook.com/TCRAsiaSeries and get involved in the conversation on www.twitter.com/TCRAsiaSeries

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Bangsaen Grand Prix, Thailand
Round#5/6 - 2018 TCR Asia Series
(13-15 July, 2018)

Qualifying#1 (13 July, 2018)
1. 8. Luca Engstler - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 1:43.443
2. 96. Leewattanavaragul - Morin Racing Team by Sunoco Seat Leon TCR# - 1:45.216
3. 15. Chariya Nuya - Billionaire Boy Racing Honda Civic TCR# - 1:45.224
4. 59. Pattarapol Vongprai - Vattana Motorsport Honda Civic TCR# - 1:45.507
5. 29. Mitchell Cheah - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 1:45.613
6. 33. Jakraphan Davee - Alphafactory by Pulzar Seat Leon TCR# - 1:45.885
7. 28. Lo Sze Ho - Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR - 1:45.929
8. 32. Diego Moran - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 1:46.029
9. 30. Kelvin Wong - Elegant Racing Team Seat Léon TCR - 1:46.816
10. 3. Alex Liu - Elegant Racing Team Seat Léon TCR - 1:47.177
11. 22. Ivan SzeTo - Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR - 1:47.576
12. 66. Nattachak Hanjitkasem - TBN MK ihear Racing Team Honda Civic TCR# - 1:48.232
13. 65. Douglas Khoo - Viper Niza Racing Seat Léon TCR - 1:48.816
#TCR Thailand

Qualifying#2 (13 July, 2018)
1. 8. Luca Engstler - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 1:42.727
2. 28. Lo Sze Ho - Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR - 1:44.741
3. 96. Leewattanavaragul - Morin Racing Team by Sunoco Seat Leon TCR# - 1:44.996
4. 59. Pattarapol Vongprai - Vattana Motorsport Honda Civic TCR# - 1:45.151
5. 32. Diego Moran - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 1:45.595
6. 33. Jakraphan Davee - Alphafactory by Pulzar Seat Leon TCR# - 1:45.838
7. 29. Mitchell Cheah - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 1:46.028
8. 3. Alex Liu - Elegant Racing Team Seat Léon TCR - 1:46.074
9. 30. Kelvin Wong - Elegant Racing Team Seat Léon TCR - 1:46.966
10. 22. Ivan SzeTo - Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR - 1:47.127
11. 66. Nattachak Hanjitkasem - TBN MK ihear Racing Team Honda Civic TCR# - 1:49.120
12. 15. Chariya Nuya - Billionaire Boy Racing Honda Civic TCR# - 1:52.137
DNQ. 65. Douglas Khoo - Viper Niza Racing Seat Léon TCR
#TCR Thailand

Round#5 (14 July, 2018)
1. 59. Pattarapol Vongprai - Vattana Motorsport Honda Civic TCR# - 15-laps
2. 96. Leewattanavaragul - Morin Racing Team by Sunoco Seat Leon TCR# +0.767
3. 33. Jakraphan Davee - Alphafactory by Pulzar Seat Leon TCR# +5.200
4. 3. Alex Liu - Elegant Racing Team Seat Léon TCR +11.526
5. 30. Kelvin Wong - Elegant Racing Team Seat Léon TCR +19.606
6. 8. Luca Engstler - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR +25.578
7. 66. Nattachak Hanjitkasem - TBN MK ihear Racing Team Honda Civic TCR# +26.347
8. 28. Lo Sze Ho - Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR +38.089

DNF. 65. Douglas Khoo - Viper Niza Racing Seat Léon TCR - 8-laps
DNF. 15. Chariya Nuya - Billionaire Boy Racing Honda Civic TCR# - 7-laps
DNF. 29. Mitchell Cheah - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 4-laps
DNF. 32. Diego Moran - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 0-laps
DNS. 22. Ivan SzeTo - Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR
#TCR Thailand

Round#6 (15 July, 2018)
1. 28. Lo Sze Ho - Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR - 15-laps
2. 32. Diego Moran - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR +2.673
3. 29. Mitchell Cheah - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR +5.513
4. 33. Jakraphan Davee - Alphafactory by Pulzar Seat Leon TCR# +10.193
5. 30. Kelvin Wong - Elegant Racing Team Seat Léon TCR +12.976
6. 66. Nattachak Hanjitkasem - TBN MK ihear Racing Team Honda Civic TCR# +13.368
7. 96. Leewattanavaragul - Morin Racing Team by Sunoco Seat Leon TCR# +32.711
8. 65. Douglas Khoo - Viper Niza Racing Seat Léon TCR +33.283
9. 15. Chariya Nuya - Billionaire Boy Racing Honda Civic TCR# - 11-laps

DNF. 59. Pattarapol Vongprai - Vattana Motorsport Honda Civic TCR# - 10-laps
DNF. 3. Alex Liu - Elegant Racing Team Seat Léon TCR - 5-laps
DNF. 8. Luca Engstler - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 4-laps
DNS. 22. Ivan SzeTo - Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR
#TCR Thailand

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TCR Asia Series Driver’s Championship points (after six rounds of ten)
1. Mitchell Cheah (100-points), 2. Lo Sze Ho (97), 3. Luca Engstler (88), 4. Diego Moran (79), 5. Kelvin Wong (71), 6. Alex Liu (52), 7. Douglas Khoo (37), 8. Abdul Kaathir (22), 9. Clement Him (16), 10. Akash Nandy (13), 11. Ivan Szeto (6)

TCR Asia Series Cup Driver’s Championship points (after six rounds of ten)
1. Kelvin Wong (143-points), 2. Alex Liu (101), 3. Douglas Khoo (86), 4. Clement Him (29), 5. Ivan Szeto (18)

TCR Asia Series Team’s Championship points (after six rounds of ten)
1. Liqui Moly Team Engstler (243-points), 2. Elegant Racing Team (131), 3. Maximum Racing (122), 4. Viper Niza Racing (40), 5. R Engineering (37)

South East Asia Cup Driver’s Championship points
1. Mitchell Cheah (106-points), 2. Lo Sze Ho (92), 3. Pattarapol Vongprai (77), 4. Jakraphan Davee (63), 5. Chariya Nuya (56), 5. Kelvin Wong (56), 7. Nattanid Leewattanavaragul (48), 8. Alex Liu (38), 9. Abdul Kaathir (29), 10. Nattachak Hanjitkasem (28), 11. Akash Nandy (18), 12. Douglas Khoo (17), 13. Ivan Szeto (8), 14. Clement Him (5)

TCR Asia Series Car Model of the Year Championship points (after six rounds of ten)
1. Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR (243-points), 2. Seat Leon TCR (159), 3. Honda Civic TCR (145)

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2018 TCR Asia Series - calendar
Rnd#1/#2, 30 March-1 April - Sepang, Malaysia*
Rnd#3/#4, 1-3 June - Buriram, Thailand*
Rnd#5/#6, 13-15 July, Bangsaen, Thailand*
Rnd#7/#8, 25-26 August - Korea International, South Korea
Rnd#9/#10, 4-5 October - Shanghai, China
INVITATIONAL, 7 October - Shanghai, China [SIC888 - endurance]
* South-East Asia Cup

Keep up to date with the TCR Asia Series through the Series website - www.asia.tcr-series.com - through Facebook; www.facebook.com/TCRAsiaSeries and get involved in the conversation on www.twitter.com/TCRAsiaSeries
#TCRAsiaSeries
 

Bangsaen turmoil opens up TCR Asia title battle

WSC Asia Ltd
44 Jalan Kemajuan
Section 12/18
Petaling Jaya 46200
Malaysia

 

 

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