Photo: TCR Asia

Luca Engstler leads Hyundai 1-2-3 lockout in Sepang qualifying

Luca Engstler has started the defence of his TCR Asia series drivers’ title in style, after securing pole position for the first round of the season at Sepang ahead of his Engstler Hyundai team-mate Theo Coicaud, with newcomer Pepe Oriola qualifying his Solite Indigo Racing Hyundai third.

The two Engstler Motorsport Hyundai drivers showed the way in Qualifying 1, with Engstler fastest with a lap time of 2:16.179, over half a second clear of his French team-mate.

With the top 12 progressing to Q2, the Engstler drivers were quick to throw down the gauntlet again, with just time for one run of two flying laps in the ten-minute session.

Engstler’s first lap of 2:16.022 was already an improvement, but on his second lap with the Michelin tyres he went even faster with a time of 2:15.727, almost four-tenths of a second clear of Coicaud’s Hyundai i30 N TCR.

Pepe Oriola, making his TCR Asia series and Hyundai debut this weekend, qualified in third, nearly a second off Engstler’s pace, while Diego Moran was the best-placed of the Engstler Motorsport Volkswagen contingent in fourth, 1.002 seconds down.

Jakraphan Davee, the Thai driver competing for the Alpha Factory Racing team, was fifth fastest and the best of the Cupras, just ahead of TCR China champion Alex Hui’s Teamwork Motorsport Audi RS 3 LMS.

Kim Jin Soo was seventh in the second of the Solite Indigo Racing Hyundais, with the Engstler Volkswagen of Adam Khalid eighth.

Daniel Miranda was able to get just one lap in after stopping at the end of Q1 with a technical problem, and put his Eurasia Motorsport Hyundai ninth, with Roland Hertner qualifying tenth in the #3 Engstler Volkswagen, and securing pole position for the reversed grid Race 2.

The first race is scheduled for 15:20 MYT (09:20 CET).