It was another brilliant race win for Luca Engstler capping five wins out of six at TCR Malaysia Series to be crowned the Inaugural TCR Malaysia Champion. The young German driver was all smiles after a perfect race, starting from fifth on the grid in the reverse grid order, at Sepang International Circuit today.
The extra weight from the BoP did not weigh him down as he propelled himself to the lead as the lights turned green. From there Engstler just kept an unbeatable pace to open up a gap, crossing the line 13.482 seconds ahead by the end of the 11-lap race. Teammate, Michael John Soong completed a strong race finishing 8th in the Hyundai I30 N TCR.
“Definitely happy. We checked data and the videos yesterday, it was super-hot outside. We made some small set-up changes which worked out quite well. I started from P5 and I could challenge the Hondas down to turn 1 which was amazing and then I saw, ‘ok, I can control the race’ and the car was amazing.
“To be honest when I went into the formation lap, I was not worried or nervous but it was just a bit crazy because the two cars in front of me stalled their engines while starting and that kind of made me confident at the start. It was perfect that I could do a perfect start, racing time was really good, start was really good. I got the chance to go on the inside, it was very tight but I thought ‘ok you have to do it now because you can build a gap’ and that’s what I did and it worked out well. Then I pushed in the first two laps and just controlled the gap and it was an amazing feeling.
“I just need to say thank you to the team and to Hyundai, they gave me the chance to drive here and to prepare myself and now I’m flying back home with the title and five wins out of six it’s just an amazing feeling. I think now is the best time to have a party!” ended Luca.
Last month was the first time Soong got back in a race car after a two year hiatus and it proved to be a great experience for him. He had a strong race in Round 6, managing a consistent pace throughout the race and the Hong Kong driver was content with the outcome of the weekend. “It was a normal race for me starting in P9 and finishing P8. The car was better, I don’t know if it was the weather but the tyres were better, it did not degrade as quickly and I managed to maintain a consistent laptime throughout the race.
“For me the start was normal, not the best but I was able to attack the other cars ahead by the end of turn 1 but somehow they just kept pulling away, they seem to have a bit more power. Perhaps it’s the BoP that’s affecting me, I am at 60kgs heavier and 20mm higher, so perhaps it is that that is weighing me down. Following them into the turns and as they exit, they seem to pull a car’s length away at every turn but I guess that’s part of the game”.
The race also provided the team with the Team Championship title, leaving Project Manager, Andreas Klinge happy with how the weekend and the season turned out for the team. “I am absolutely proud of everyone, especially for sure Luca because what he demonstrated today was really another masterpiece and proof of his driving skills. It was simply unbelievable, perfect start, perfect race and if you look at the gap that he made from the start to finish, it is kind of unbelievable that this is possible. I have to say Luca’s performance is simply stunning and well deserved.
“I was rather impressed by Michael’s performance too today because he managed good times, he fought with the others and so I think if he had more time in the car he would be even more capable of fighting with the front-runners. I have to say a remarkable move up in the right direction and I am happy and proud of him as well.
“For the team it’s great as well because yesterday we secured the Driver’s Title and today securing the Team’s Title and P2 in the Championship as well, another one-two podium so I am a little bit speechless and what else is there to say”.