TCR Talk – The Brits Abroad: Lloyd endures highs and lows at Ningbo

During 2019, TCR Talk will be following the progress of the various British drivers racing in TCR Series abroad. We continue this series with 2018 TCR UK Champion Daniel Lloyd, who is competing in the 2019 TCR China Touring Car Championship for Dongfeng Honda Racing Team…

Here is the TCR Talk roundup of Daniel’s performance at Ningbo International Speedpark in China with TCR China supporting the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) over the weekend, where race one took place on Saturday and race two took place on Sunday…

Qualifying at Ningbo…

Luca Engstler. Credit: TCR China

With the penultimate race weekend of the series having all the more important of the tight nature of the Drivers Championship, an unknown element entered the weekend in the shape of four-time TCR Champion Luca Engstler.

The German driver entered his Hyundai i30 N TCR as a wildcard in the series at Ningbo and didn’t turn a wheel until Qualifying.

Engstler outpaced the TCR China field in Qualifying to set the fastest time of 1:50.633 that was even faster than Yvan Muller’s pole position in the Saturday WTCR Qualifying session. An impressive result, considering that this was his first outing on the Chinese track, having missed free practice.

Rodolfo Ávila in the X Power MG6 TCR. Credit: TCR China

The impressive pace of the Hyundai, despite carrying 60kgs of new entry weight meant that the TCR China regulars were left far behind. Martin Xie qualified in second ahead of Lloyd and Couto.

Lloyd’s teammate was the fourth fastest ahead of Zhang Zhen Dong in the best of the two MG6 TCR cars.

Race One at Ningbo…

TCR China race one at Ningbo. Credit: TCR China

After outpacing the TCR China field in Qualifying, Luca Engstler dominated the first race at Ningbo. The German took the lead at the start and then consistently created a gap, crossing the finishing line 4.5 seconds ahead of Daniel Lloyd.

During the first lap, Martin Xie tried to overtake Engstler for the lead. Engstler was able to successfully defend his position and this, in turn, benefited Lloyd who passed his teammate for second place, whilst the Hyundai driver retained the lead and began to pull away.

André Couto struggled to keep fourth position on track however he managed to hold off Huang Chu Han’s pressure and stayed ahead of the Audi driver who would secure fifth place at the flag.

André Couto in the third Dongfeng Racing Team Honda Civic TCR Credit: TCR China

For the rest of the race, Engstler gradually increased the gap to Lloyd whilst Xie found himself hunted down by the chasing pack of Couto and Huang. Zhang Zhen Dong cruised home in sixth position with his MG6 TCR.

The most interesting battle during the race was that for seventh position between Kenneth Look, Yan Chuang, Edward Chen and Rodolfo Ávila in the second MG6 TCR who swapped places several times. During the last lap, Chen and Ávila made contact handing seventh place to Look from Chen, Chuang and Ávila.

In the Drivers Standings, Huang has retains his points lead, however, Lloyd closed the gap to three points ahead of the second race on Sunday.

Race Two in Ningbo…

TCR China race two at Ningbo. Credit: TCR China

The second TCR China’s race at Ningbo was decided by an unfortunate incident during lap three that eliminated the MacPro Racing Honda cars of André Couto and Daniel Lloyd who were running first and second on the road.

Luca Engstler inherited the lead and easily encored his Saturday win, while Huang Chu Han cruised to finish second place and stretched his championship-leading margin in the standings to 20 points ahead of Lloyd.

At the start, Edward Chen started well from the pole, while Martin Xie hit Kenneth Look’s car, which spun off. Xie’s Honda suffered from a broken front suspension and James Wong also spun in avoidance.

Huang Chu Han in the Newfaster Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR. Credit: TCR China

Couto and Lloyd overtook Chen, moving into first and second whilst Engstler passed Zhang and Chen to take third place behind the leading MacPro Racing Hondas.

During lap three, Engstler started to challenge Lloyd for second position, when Couto spun in front of them both, leaving Lloyd nowhere to go except to crash into his teammate’s car. Engstler was lucky to avoid being caught in the collision and found himself lead out in front, well ahead of Huang and Chen.

Engstler went on to win from Huang and Chen, while the X Power MG cars of Zhang Zhen Dong and Rodolfo Ávila were classified fourth and fifth. After the race, Chen was penalised for a jump start and this elevated Zhang and Ávila to third and fourth.

Lloyd reflects on Ningbo…

Daniel Lloyd. Credit: David Noels/HME

Daniel Lloyd reflected back on what was an important weekend which offered some hope of reclaiming the Championship lead on Saturday, before events on Sunday changed the outlook of that task.

“A really unfortunate end to what started as a positive weekend. We did a great job in free practice and qualifying and were on the pace all weekend with the aim for Ningbo to close the gap to the championship leaders, and it was almost job done in race one,” explained Lloyd.

“Securing the podium brought us back to just three points off the lead. So to be taken out of race two with another podium on the cards was gutting. I was in a really good position, battling with Engstler and then my team-mate, who was leading the race, lost it on the first corner and collected me. There was nothing I could have done.”

The reigning TCR UK Champion then went on to explain the difficulty of trying to secure 2019 TCR China Touring Car Championship.

“That incident has sadly put our championship hopes pretty much out of reach. We’re twenty points behind now, which is a full race win. There are just two races to go which means something would have to happen to the leaders now for us to be within grasp of claiming the title,” said Lloyd.

“There’s still hope, but it’s a long shot now. The team did a great job this weekend. It’s just really unfortunate how it’s all worked out.”

Daniel Lloyd. Credit: David Noels/HME

The TCR China Touring Car Championship follows the successful route of live streaming, which has worked for almost all TCR Series around the globe, by showing all of their races live on YouTube and on Facebook.

This is done on the AFOS (Asian Festival of Speed) YouTube Account which you can find here. You can also find live coverage of the races at TCR TV as well as on the TCR Asia Series and TCR China Facebook pages. The joint TCR Asia and TCR China series events use full English commentary, so this allows for a wider audience to follow the series outside of Asia.

To watch the full TCR Asia/TCR China races with English Commentary, please follow the link to my YouTube Playlist:

2019 TCR Asia International Series / 2019 TCR China Touring Car Championship

The 2019 TCR China Touring Car Championship at Ningbo. Credit: TCR China

The final rounds of the 2019 TCR China Touring Car Championship take place over the weekend of 26-27 October at Zhuzhou International Circuit.

TCR Talk will be following Daniel Lloyd, as he competes against the 2019 TCR Asia International Series competitors whilst looking to try and secure his second TCR Title by winning the 2019 TCR China 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 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), The 2019 TCR Europe Touring Car Series, The 2019 TCR UK Touring Car Championship and other Domestic & Regional TCR Series from around the world.

Until next time, all the best!