Luca Engstler survives Spielberg chaos to snatch controversial victory
Luca Engstler came through a frantic second race of the Red Bull Ring weekend to clinch a maiden TCR Europe series win in controversial fashion, taking the lead after tagging fellow Hyundai driver Luca Filippi on the final lap.
M1RA Motorsport racer Engstler started the final lap of a rain-affected affair in third place, behind the leading Filippi (BRC Racing Team) and pole-sitter Tom Coronel’s Honda, but snatched P2 away from the Dutchman at Turn 1.
Coronel had already been informed of a drive-through penalty after his Boutsen Ginion team was found to have worked on his car after the five-minute board was shown on the grid before the start, but continued to race unabated. He failed to serve his penalty during the race and was subsequently handed 30 seconds of added time in lieu of his drive-through, dropping him from third on the road to 18th.
Once past the tenacious Coronel, Engstler set off in pursuit of Filippi, catching the Italian with just half a lap remaining. The duo then made contact as they disputed the lead at Turn 9, just three corners from home, sending Filippi into the barriers and out of contention.
Engstler continued to the chequered flag, preliminarily claiming his first TCR Europe series victory, but the incident between the two Hyundai drivers is currently under investigation by the stewards.
Elsewhere on the final lap, Saturday winner Josh Files (Target Competition / Hyundai) completed a strong drive from ninth on the partially-reversed grid to snatch third place at Turn 3, which became second when Filippi retired a few corners later.
The effort saw Files all but retain his near-perfect Red Bull Ring record, the Briton now adding a second place to six previous career victories at the Austrian track.
Alex Morgan produced a determined drive to the final podium position aboard his Wolf-Power Racing Cupra, while Nelson Panciatici delivered arguably the drive of the day in fourth having stalled on the grid.
Gianni Morbidelli completed the top five in his WestCoast Racing-run Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.
While the results remain preliminary, Files has extended his championship lead to 36 points ahead of the advancing Engstler.
The next TCR Europe round takes place at Oschersleben on August 3-4th.