TCR Talk Review: 2020 TCR Malaysia Touring Car Championship – Sepang Part 1

After following the likes of the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), the TCR Europe Touring Car Series, the TCR UK Touring Car Championship and the ADAC TCR Germany Touring Car Championship in recent seasons, TCR Talk will be following a new series for 2020:

The 2020 TCR Malaysia Touring Car Championship

Here is the TCR Talk roundup of all the action that took place at Sepang, with both races taking place on Saturday…

Daniel Lloyd emerged as the first leader of TCR Malaysia after the season’s opener at Sepang. The Briton and his Brutal Fish Racing Honda Civic were second in Qualifying and in both races that were won by Luca Engstler and Nico Gruber respectively.

The Hyundai cars showed a superior pace, but as Gruber retired in race one and Engstler had tyre issues in race two, Lloyd claimed the highest score of the weekend. Local racer Gilbert Ang completed a brilliant Touring Car debut as he finished twice third in his Viper Niza Racing CUPRA.

Engstler dominates Qualifying at Sepang

Luca Engstler secured pole position for race one. Credit: TCR Malaysia

In Qualifying, Engstler had claimed pole position with a lap of 2:14.669 that was half-a-second faster than Lloyd’s time of 2:15.219. Gruber had his two fastest laps cancelled due to track limit infringements, leaving him placed seventh on the grid for both races whilst his best effort of 2:15.351 would have meant third position.

Gilbert Ang enjoyed a great start to his debut by putting the Viper Niza Racing CUPRA third on the grid ahead of Engstler’s team-mate Declan Fraser.

Both Freddie Ang and Douglas Khoo locked out row three whilst Gruber started ahead of Yang Xi in the Teamwork Huff Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR. Yang would take the reverse grid pole for race two later on Saturday.

Engstler sweeps to race one victory

Engstler put his knowledge of car and circuit to good use in race one. Credit: TCR Malaysia

Engstler took the lead once the lights went out, staying ahead of Lloyd who managed to stay in close contact during the early stages. The young German driver started to increase his lead from lap five onwards and was able to consistently increase his margin as he crossed the line four seconds ahead of his rival.

Behind them, Fraser defended his third position, but he was soon passed in quick succession by Gilbert Ang, Gruber and Freddie Ang. With two laps to go, both Gruber and Fraser returned to the pits.

Lloyd managed to stay in touch with Engstler in the early laps. Credit: TCR Malaysia

The Austrian Hyundai driver retired having damaged his car in contact with Ang, while the Australian re-joined, having lost one lap for changing the front tyres. This promoted Ang and Xi to fourth and fifth positions respectively.

With Engstler taking the win ahead of Lloyd, it was Freddie Ang who would join them on the podium, with Yang securing the Cup class honours.

Gruber secures maiden victory in race two

Gruber took his maiden TCR win in race two at Sepang. Credit: TCR Malaysia

At the start of the second race of the day, Gruber made a storming start fro second place on the grid, where he pipped pole-sitter Yang to the lead, while Lloyd and Engstler quickly made their way up to second and third places respectively.

It was from this point that Engstler started to put the pressure on his TCR Asia, TCR China and TCR Europe rival Lloyd. For several laps, the Honda driver managed to stay ahead of the four-time TCR Champion and finally held him off during the second half of the race.

Free to advance forwards, Lloyd started after race leader Gruber, however, the Austrian had built a solid margin and went on to claim his maiden TCR win with a one-second margin.

Yang Xi leads the Cup Drivers standings after two wins from two races in Sepang. Credit: Teamwork Huff Motorsport

During the latter stages of the race, Engstler experienced tyre issues and dropped down the order, while Gilbert Ang beat Fraser in the battle for third. Yang secured the Cup class honours once again in the Teamwork Huff Motorsport Audi.

Thanks to his brace of second-place finishes, 2018 TCR UK Champion Lloyd leads the Drivers standings on forty points, with Engstler in second place, a further four points back. Gilbert Ang lies in third place, three points behind Engstler.

TCR Malaysia will resume with rounds 3 and 4 on February 15/16, still at Sepang.

The 2020 TCR Malaysia Touring Car Championship

I will be keeping things up to date on here as well as in The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group where members will also be sharing their thoughts and any news from The 2020 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), The 2020 TCR Europe Touring Car Series, The 2020 TCR UK Touring Car Championship and other Domestic & Regional TCR Series from around the world.

All images are used in this blog are courtesy of TCR Malaysia unless otherwise credited.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

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