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Team Engstler whitewash at Shanghai to take title
08
October
2018

Team Engstler whitewash at Shanghai to take title

The fourth season of the TCR Asia Series has concluded with a dominant performance by Liqui Moly Team Engstler, the reigning Teams and Drivers champions claiming their third consecutive titles with a weekend that included back-to-back podium lockouts in TCR Asia, and the historic first ever TCR win in the inaugural SIC888 endurance event at Shanghai International Circuit.

Coming into the round, 11 points separated title rivals Luca Engstler and Mitchell Cheah, the two Volkswagen team-mates having shared wins in five of the eight completed rounds ahead of the Series return to China, Cheah making his intentions felt early with a stunning drive in qualifying to claim pole position, dropping the margin to ten points and giving the young Malaysian hope for the opening race.

Engstler though - who was coming off a narrow defeat in the TCR Germany title race just a week prior - was not going to be denied a second time, the young German storming off the line to pass Cheah and hold his Liqui Moly Team Engstler team-mate out to the flag with the final member of the team - Ecuador’s Diego Moran - across the line in third position.

Off a reverse grid top ten start for race two, Engstler again made short work of the traffic to lead his team-mates by the close of the first lap, the trio again driving away from their rivals for a second podium lockout and the team’s sixth consecutive win at Shanghai.

In the battle for the TCR Asia Cup honours, Macau’s KK Wong had a dominant points lead over Malaysia’s Douglas Khoo coming in, and despite a tough weekend which saw contact and time in the pits in round nine, the Elegant Racing Team Cupra TCR driver went on to claim the round win in the final and with it, his maiden TCR Asia title.

Qualifying
With the single day format for qualifying and both races, it was an early start for the TCR Asia and TCR China teams with qualifying less than two hours from the opening race.

There was a great battle at the top of the timesheets after pre-event testing on Thursday had seen a battle between TCR China top guns Alex Hui/Sunny Wong and Henry Ho/Eurico de Jesus and the Team Engstler Volkswagens. In the end, it was the experience of the German-based team that saw the #29 Golf GTi TCR of Mitchell Cheah top the second session after a great battle with team-mate Luca Engstler, the Malaysian breaking Engstler’s stranglehold on the top qualifying position to give himself a great advantage ahead of the opening race.

Ultimately the fastest time in Q1 [TCR China and TCR Asia use different qualifying platforms, with TCR China using two drivers in their series] would give Henry Ho a starting position alongside Cheah on the front row, the MacPro Racing Honda driver stopping the clocks with a best of 2:17.250 to Cheah’s Q2 best of 2:17.117 [TCR Asia using Q2 to set the order of the top ten from Q1].

Impressive amongst the TCR Asia teams though was Elegant Racing Team’s TCR Asia Cup points leader KK Wong, the Macanese Cupra TCR driver just three tenths shy of Luca Engstler in Q1 and fourth fastest for TCR Asia in Q2, to put the top teams on notice that he was right on their tail.

Round#9 (12-laps)
Despite holding pole for the opening race, those in the inner sanctum of Mitchell Cheah’s support group knew the young Malaysian was nervous about the start, admitting quietly that one of the few chinks in his otherwise impressive array of abilities, was difficulties with getting off the line with the standing starts.

Sadly his concerns were realised as the lights went out, Cheah bogging down off the line as behind him Engstler stormed off the standing start to lead into turn one with team-mate Diego Moran in tow, Cheah dropping back to third through the first sequence of corners.

You could see from the attitude of the car and the way he attacked the opening sequence of corners that Cheah was berating himself for the poor start, but he quickly gathered his thoughts and focussed his intentions on team-mate Moran. At the turn 14 hairpin he made a last minute lunge under brakes as Moran took a wider line through the corner, the pair making contact which allowed Cheah through - fortunately it was judged a racing incident and warranted no further action.

By this stage though Engstler was away to a strong early lead, a lead he managed across the closing laps to hold Cheah out to the flag, ultimately crossing the line more than a second clear. Cheah had closed the gap and looked like he might be able to attack, but the experienced Engstler managed the gap to hold on for his fourth win of the year.

Fourth across the line after starting from the front row and being swamped by the three Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagens early was Henry Ho, the former TCR Asia regular claiming his seventh win of the year for TCR China to give he and Eurico de Jesus an advantage over early front runner Sunny Wong. Wong sadly was caught up in an incident with KK Wong on a Safety Car restart to recover the unfortunate Alex Liu, the Bangsaen winner cleaned up mid field and forced to retire with damage, fortunately the team were able to repair the car for the final round.

Following Ho across the line was former TCR Asia rival Filipe de Souza in the TA Motorsport Audi, the Macanese driver turning valuable laps in preparation for the Macau Grand Prix, he managed to break clear of a great battle with the Tian HE Racing Volkswagen, the pair completing the TCR China podium.

The returning Ivan Szeto claimed the seventh place finish for the Maximum Racing Honda team, having taken over the Bangsaen round winning Civic TCR from team-mate Lo Sze Ho, the Hong Kong based driver claiming top honours in the TCR Asia Cup as a result of KK Wong’s setback after contact with Sunny Wong, the Cupra TCR driver losing a number of laps in the pits as a result of the incident.

Ian Leong was next for the Son Veng Racing Team ahead of TCR Asia Cup contender Douglas Khoo who by virtue of finishing second all but handed KK Wong the title, despite the Elegant Racing Team pilot finishing on the bottom step of the podium.

Round#10 (10-laps)
The reverse grid top ten [for the TCR Asia Series cars only] saw a mixed field for the second standing start, with Alex Hui off pole for TCR China in a less than pristine #11 TeamWork entry, whilst alongside Ivan Szeto was very quickly swamped on the run down to turn one.

Despite the three Engstler cars starting positions six, eight and ten it wasn’t long before all three were in the thick of the action at the front, Luca Engstler in particular stunning his rivals to be second by turn two from the fourth row of the grid!

By turn six he made a bid for the lead from pole-sitter Alex Hui, taking the undercut on the exit, but he had to wait until the turn-12 ‘Parabolica’ to seal the deal, banging doors with Hui as he cut to the inside on the run onto the long back straight.

By that stage Hui had Diego Moran looming large in his mirrors, whilst behind the leading trio Mitchell Cheah was climbing all over Ryan Wong in the TA Motorsports Audi.

Very quickly all three Liqui Moly Engstler cars were through to the front of the pack, as behind them Douglas Khoo lost the benefit of a strong early start with a spin on cold tyres at turn two, allowing TCR Cup rival Ivan Szeto back through for position.

As he had done in race one, Mitchell Cheah was very quickly onto the tail of Diego Moran and despite his best efforts to keep the young Malaysian behind him, Cheah ultimately worked his way through, but by that stage Luca Engstler was almost five seconds down the road and punching out some very fast lap times.

Behind the leading trio Alex Hui continued to hold the top spot for TCR China, whilst behind him, Eurico de Jesus was working his way forward, banging his way past Ryan Wong in the Audi on the exit of turn three, the Honda driver though ultimately excluded post-race for a technical infringement in scrutineering, losing them valuable championship points in the battle against the #11 TeamWork Volkswagen.

Despite some impressive laps over the closing stages of the race, Mitchell Cheah was unable to catch Engstler, the Malaysian admitting it was all lost off the line in the opening race, whilst behind them Diego Moran celebrated his second podium of the day, a result which also elevated him to third in the championship, giving Liqui Moly Team Engstler a podium whitewash in both Shanghai and the title race.

Alex Hui crossed the line fourth for top points in TCR China, the exclusion of Eurico de Jesus and a strong finish in the final TCR China race [not contested by TCR Asia teams] allowing the TeamWork Volkswagen pairing to close down the championship lead heading into the final round.

KK Wong claimed top honours again in the TCR Asia Cup, the Elegant Racing team driver putting the title completely out of reach with a resounding victory over eighth-placed Douglas Khoo and Ivan Szeto. Ryan Wong brought the TA Motorsport Audi home second in TCR China with Miguel Kong giving the MacPro Honda team some reason to celebrate with third in class.

Sadly for Alex Liu more contact early in the race saw another retirement, the Elegant Racing Team faced with a long night to have the car on the grid for the inaugural SIC888 endurance race. Fortunately they were successful in their goal.

SIC888 (163-laps)
Mixed in with a number of Asia’s leading GT teams as well as a large pack of TP1 and TP2 production cars, four of the TCR teams that contested the short sprint races lined up for the inaugural SIC888 on the Sunday following the TCR Asia Series final for a six plus hour journey around the Chinese Grand Prix circuit.

Fresh off his maiden TCR Asia Series title, Luca Engstler anchored the #8 team which was the re-liveried Mitchell Cheah entry, the new champion joined by TCR Germany team-mate Theo Coicaud and TCR Asia team-mate Diego Moran, the three of them qualifying comfortably clear of their rivals.

Embroiled in a fantastic battle with former F1 driver Rio Haryanto who was making a return to motorsport in an Audi R8 LMS GT4 after his forced retirement from F1, the #8 team finally prevailed over the final hours to claim a stunning fourth outright and victory in the TCR class by a six lap margin over Tian/Li in the Liqui Moly HE Racing Volkswagen, whilst TCR Asia rivals Elegant Racing Team had Alex Liu and Ken Look across the line third, five laps further back.

For the Macanese Cupra TCR team, they had a long day, Liu and Look originally scheduled to be joined by former TCR Asia front runner WS Lai, the Malaysian though - whilst on site and ready to go - was thwarted by paperwork and forced to watch from pit lane forcing the two drivers to complete the six plus hours alone, the popular team though happy to have been able to make the podium after a tough run through the TCR Asia finale.

Sadly for the #60 Feng/Xue/Shen, Hexin Racing Volkswagen team they suffered a challenging day with a litany of issues, eventually retiring the car after 80-laps.

For the TCR Asia Series, focus now turns to 2019 with the calendar for the fifth season of the successful regional series expected in coming weeks.

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Round#9/10 - 2018 TCR Asia Series
Shanghai International Circuit, China

(4-5 October, 2018)

Qualifying#1 (5 October, 2018)
1. 88. Henry Ho - MacPro Racing Team Honda Civic FK7 TCR# - 2:17.345
2. 11. Sunny Wong - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 2:17.508
3. 8. Luca Engstler - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 2:17.824
4. 30. KK Wong - Elegant Racing Team Cupra TCR - 2:18.122
5. 26. Filipe de Souza - TA Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR# - 2:18.282
6. 68. Tian Li Ying - Liqui Moly HE Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 2:19.386
7. 32. Diego Moran - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 2:19.603
8. 29. Mitchell Cheah - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 2:19.732
9. 22. Ivan Szeto - Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR - 2:19.986
10. 65. Douglas Khoo - Viper Niza Racing Cupra TCR - 2:20.241
11. 6. Ian Leong - Son Veng Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 2:20.795
12. 3. Alex Liu - Elegant Racing Team Cupra TCR - 2:21.749
13. 60. Chang Shuai - Hexin Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 2:25.669
14. 8. Ka Lam - MacPro Racing Honda Civic FK7 TCR# - 2:28.245
#TCR China

Qualifying#2 (5 October, 2018)
1. 29. Mitchell Cheah - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 2:17.117
2. 8. Luca Engstler - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 2:17.661
3. 32. Diego Moran - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 2:17.714
4. 11. Alex Hui - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 2:17.932
5. 30. KK Wong - Elegant Racing Team Cupra TCR - 2:18.611
6. 88. Eurico de Jesus - MacPro Racing Team Honda Civic FK7 TCR# - 2:19.657
7. 26. Ryan Wong - TA Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR# - 2:20.339
8. 65. Douglas Khoo - Viper Niza Racing Cupra TCR - 2:21.665
9. 22. Ivan Szeto - Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR - 2:21.768
10. 68. Xue Li - Liqui Moly HE Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 2:21.934
11. 8. Miguel Kong - MacPro Racing Honda Civic FK7 TCR# - 2:22.832
12. 60. Chen Zhen - Hexin Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 2:23.165
13. 6. Eric Lam - Son Veng Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 2:30.696
#TCR China

Round#9 (5 October, 2018)
1. 8. Luca Engstler - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 12-laps
2. 29. Mitchell Cheah - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR +1.109
3. 32. Diego Moran - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR +7.729
4. 88. Henry Ho - MacPro Racing Team Honda Civic FK7 TCR# +7.905
5. 26. Filipe de Souza - TA Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR# +19.395
6. 68. Tian Li Ying - Liqui Moly HE Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# +29.676
7. 22. Ivan Szeto - Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR +53.669
8. 6. Ian Leong - Son Veng Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# +1:00.037
9. 65. Douglas Khoo - Viper Niza Racing Cupra TCR - 11-laps
10. 8. Ka Lam - MacPro Racing Honda Civic FK7 TCR#
11. 30. KK Wong - Elegant Racing Team Cupra TCR - 8-laps

DNF. 60. Chang Shuai - Hexin Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 6-laps
DNF. 11. Sunny Wong - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 3-laps
DNF. 3. Alex Liu - Elegant Racing Team Cupra TCR - 0-laps
#TCR China

Round#10 (5 October, 2018)
1. 8. Luca Engstler - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 10-laps
2. 29. Mitchell Cheah - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR +12.085
3. 32. Diego Moran - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR +7.115
4. 11. Alex Hui - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# +19.979
5. 30. KK Wong - Elegant Racing Team Cupra TCR +33.248
6. 88. Eurico de Jesus - MacPro Racing Team Honda Civic FK7 TCR# +40.383
7. 26. Ryan Wong - TA Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR# +42.784
8. 8. Miguel Kong - MacPro Racing Honda Civic FK7 TCR# +54.843
9. 65. Douglas Khoo - Viper Niza Racing Cupra TCR +56.474
10. 60. Chen Zhen - Hexin Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# +1:09.724
11. 68. Xue Li - Liqui Moly HE Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# +1:11.225
12. 22. Ivan Szeto - Maximum Racing Honda Civic TCR +2:01.208
13. 6. Eric Lam - Son Veng Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# +2:15.194
DNF. 3. Alex Liu - Elegant Racing Team Cupra TCR - 2-laps
#TCR China

SIC888 - Qualifying (6 October, 2018)
1. 8.  Engstler/Moran/Coicaud - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 2:17.899
2. 3.  Liu/Look - Elegant Racing Team Cupra TCR - 2:19.853
3. 68. Tian/Li - Liqui Moly HE Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 2:24.072
4. 60. Feng/Xue/Shen - Hexin Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 2:31.349

SIC888 - Race (7 October, 2018)
1. 8.  Engstler/Moran/Coicaud - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 148-laps
2. 68. Tian/Li - Liqui Moly HE Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 142-laps
3. 3.  Liu/Look - Elegant Racing Team Cupra TCR - 137-laps
DNF. 60. Feng/Xue/Shen - Hexin Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 80-laps

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TCR Asia Series Driver’s Championship points (after ten rounds of ten)
1. Luca Engstler (197-points), 21. Mitchell Cheah (165), 3. Diego Moran (127), 4. KK Wong (106), 5. Lo Sze Ho (98), 6. Douglas Khoo (82), 7. Alex Liu (69), 8. Ivan Szeto (26), 9. Abdul Kaathir (22), 10. Clement Him (16), 11. Akash Nandy (13)

TCR Asia Series Cup Driver’s Championship points (after ten rounds of ten)
1. KK Wong (203-points), 2. Douglas Khoo (154), 3. Alex Liu (123), 4. Ivan Szeto (61), 5. Clement Him (29)

TCR Asia Series Team’s Championship points (after ten rounds of ten)
1. Liqui Moly Team Engstler (425-points), 2. Elegant Racing Team (187), 3. Maximum Racing (149), 4. Viper Niza Racing (93), 5. R Engineering (37)

TCR Asia Series Car Model of the Year Championship points (after ten rounds of ten)
 1. Volkswagen (427-points), 2. Seat/Cupra (256), 3. Honda (172)

#TCRAsiaSeries
 

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