China’s longest serving permanent circuit will set the scene for the second event of the 2019 TCR Asia Series calendar, a circuit which has in the past presented more than a challenge for the series regulars, and with a strong field of entries alongside TCR China, the action is expected to be spellbinding.
Zhuhai has in the past set the scene for some dramatic TCR Asia competition. It was the host for the first ever victory of the - then - new Audi RS3 LMS TCR, with Hong Kong teenager Jasper Thong prevailing in challenging conditions to take the first win for the German marque in April 2017. Zhuhai also saw one of the smartest strategy moves in the history of the category, with the Macau-based Elegant Racing team claiming a 1-2 finish in damp conditions after electing to make a last-second tyre choice on the grid in stark contrast to their rivals, even the renowned skills of GT sensation Shaun Thong couldn’t breach the advantage the Cupra TCR team had as they went on to their maiden win in TCR.
Alongside TCR China, this weekend will provide plenty of great racing, with round two of the brewing battle between reigning champion Luca Engstler and TCR-sensation Pepe Oriola expected to keep everyone glued to the monitors, as is British star Daniel Lloyd, whilst the 18-car field will ensure that there will be plenty to watch right down the order.. And then there’s mother nature, who traditionally this time of year, will also play a likely role..!
Engstler and Oriola may have been the focus of attention at Sepang a month ago, but whilst they squabbled for position, Engstler’s former team-mate Diego Moran prevailed in race two to take not just his first win of the season, but the championship points lead in the Volkswagen Team Oettinger Golf. That result, makes the Ecuadorian the man to chase this weekend at Zhuhai, where he will take advantage of the absence of Theo Coicaud.
The Frenchman also starred at Sepang, but for all the wrong reasons, having to charge through the field in both races, despite setting a front row qualifying time for race one. His setbacks aside, Coicaud was impressive, storming to second in race one behind Engstler, before working his way through the field in race two to be amongst the stars of the round. A commitment in Europe has kept him from the Zhuhai grid which has allowed points leader Moran to step into the second Liqui Moly Team Engstler Hyundai for this weekend, something which may or may not be an advantage given his lack of laps in the Korean-built machine.
Of the challengers to the TCR Asia Series front runners, arguably the greatest will be British GT and Touring Car sensation Daniel Lloyd, the Englishman signing on for the impressive Dongfeng Honda MacPro Racing Team who are expected to challenge for the top spot in TCR China again this year. Lloyd is no stranger to the Asian region having turned plenty of GT miles in past years, whilst also enjoying some seat-time in various touring car categories in Asia, and in Europe. He could well be the dark horse in the field this weekend.
With reigning TCR China champion Alex Hui back in the TeamWork Motorsport Audi, former TCR Asia front-runner Filipe de Souza in a TA Motorsport Audi, and former TCR Asia podium finisher Alex Liu in the field, it won’t just be the pointy end that will benefit from the strong grid.
Eurasia Motorsport’s Daniel Miranda will be another great focal point, the young Filipino spending much of race two at Sepang in the lead, only succumbing to Diego Moran late in the race to claim second on his TCR debut in the #20 Hyundai - as a recent signing to the Korean manufacturer’s young driver development program, even the factory has seen potential in the youngster.
Both Zhuhai races will be live-streamed through the TCR Asia Series website and through Facebook. Details of the streams and the broadcast times will be available on the TCR Asia Series website and through social media. News, video clips, images and updates will also be posted across the weekend.
WHO’S COMPETING IN ZHUHAI?
1. Luca Engstler [GER] Liqui Moly Team Engstler Hyundai i30N TCR
3. Roland Hertner [GER] Volkswagen Team Oettinger Golf GTi TCR*
4. Adam Khalid [MAS] Volkswagen Team Oettinger Golf GTi TCR
10. Cherry Cheung [HKG] TeamWork Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR*
11. Alex Hui [HKG] TeamWork Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR
20. Daniel Miranda [PHI] Eurasia Motorsport Hyundai i30N TCR
23. Diego Moran [ECU] Liqui Moly Team Engstler Hyundai i30N TCR
26. Filipe de Souza [MAC] T.A Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR
30. Hua Yang Gao [CHN] Eurasia Motorsport Hyundai i30N TCR
33. Alex Liu [MAC] Liqui Moly Team NewFaster Cupra TCR
55. Martin Xie [CHN] Dongfeng Honda Macpro Racing Team Civic FK7 TCR
65. Douglas Khoo [MAS] Viper Niza Racing Cupra TCR*
74. Pepe Oriola [SPA] Solite Indigo Racing Hyundai i30N TCR
77. Daniel Lloyd [GBR] Dongfeng Honda Macpro Racing Team Civic FK7 TCR
81. Terry Huang [CHN] Liqui Moly Team NewFaster Audi RS3 LMS TCR
88. Kenneth Look [CHN] Liqui Moly Team NewFaster Audi RS3 LMS TCR
97. Kim Jin Soo [KOR] Solite Indigo Racing Hyundai i30N TCR
99. Lin Li [CHN] Leo Racing Volkswagen Team Oettinger Golf GTi TCR
*TCR Asia Cup entrant
ZHUHAI INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT
Zhuhai International Circuit, Guangdong Province (China)
Track length: 4.319-kilometres
Designer/Circuit first opened: Kinhill Engineers, November 1996
TCR Asia Series Lap record:
1:45.151 - Race (Tin Sritrai, Team Thailand Honda Civic TCR, April 2017)
1:44.920 - Qualifying (Jasper Thong, Phoenix Racing Asia Audi RS3 LMS TCR, April 2017)
Number of years TCR Asia Series has competed at Sepang previously: 2017 (4x rounds)
Rnd#3/4 - 2019 TCR Asia Series
Zhuhai International Circuit, China
Schedule (CST - GMT +8)
Friday, 3 May, 2019
11:15am - Qualifying#1 (20-minutes)
11:40am - Qualifying#2 (10-minutes)
3:25pm - Race#1 (15-laps)
Saturday, 4 May, 2019
11:30am - Race#2 (15-laps)