TCR Talk Review: 2020 TCR Malaysia Touring Car Championship – Sepang Part 3

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 for the final weekend of the series, with both races once again taking place on Saturday. With a title to be decided, the on-track action reflected the pressure on the drivers and teams.

Kim Jinsoo joins Files at Solite Indigo Racing for 2020 TCR Malaysia Series Finale

Kim Jinsoo in the Solite Indigo Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR.

South Korea-based Solite Indigo Racing confirmed that rising star Kim Jinsoo would joins the team effort for the 2020 TCR Malaysia Touring Car Championship finale.

Jinsoo will drive for the team during its campaign in the 2020 TCR Asia International Series. Kim will drive the Hyundai i30 N TCR that Files used during the middle weekend of TCR Malaysia as the 2019 TCR Europe Champion moves to the Hyundai Veloster N that he will also use in TCR Asia this year.

Engstler takes pole in Qualifying for TCR Malaysia Finale

Engstler dominated Qualifying in his usual fashion

Luca Engstler continued his run of Pole Positions in the 2020 TCR Malaysia Touring Car Championship as he looked to try and take every advantage in his hunt for a second consecutive title.

Engstler had gone fastest in Q1 with a lap of 2:14.571, going one-tenth faster than Lloyd’s 2:14.685, with the returning Mitchell Cheah in third position, just over a second behind the German driver and his team-mate for the weekend.

Josh Files put the new Hyundai Veloster N in fourth place ahead of Gilbert Ang, who once again outlined his talent against the more experienced drivers in the field by going fifth fastest. Freddie Ang was back in the third Viper Niza CUPRA and completed the top six.

Kim Jinsoo stole seventh place ahead of Douglas Khoo, who was the fastest Cup entrant in eight place ahead of Tommy Ku was seventh in the Prince Racing Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR.

Douglas Khoo in the Viper Niza Racing CUPRA TCR

The reigning TCR Malaysia champion drove his Engstler Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR to set a lap of 2:14.677 in Q2, beating Daniel Lloyd’s Brutal Fish Racing Honda Civic by only two-tenths of a second.

Engstler’s teammate Cheah qualified in third position, only three-thousandths of a second behind Lloyd whilst 2019 TCR Europe Champion Josh Files set the fourth fastest lap at the wheel of his Hyundai Veloster N.

Gilbert Ang followed in fifth position in his Viper Niza Racing CUPRA with team-mate Freddie Ang taking sixth on the grid. Kim Jinsoo took seventh place, just three-thousandths of a second behind Ang whilst Douglas Khoo was eighth in the remaining Viper Niza Racing CUPRA.

Engstler takes his third race victory of the season.

Luca Engstler in the Hyundai Team Engstler Hyundai i30 N TCR

In race one, Engstler sprinted away in his customary, almost expected fashion, at the start and was never headed as he went on to score his third lights-to-flag win of the season.

Behind him, there was a tough battle between Lloyd, Cheah and Files, with the three of them making contact several times during the early laps. Files took second from Lloyd during the first lap, but then he clashed again with Lloyd during lap four and dropped back to fifth.

Lloyd was able to pull away from both Cheah and Gilbert Ang, who kept on fighting for third until the end of the race whilst the British driver took second place comfortably.

Daniel Lloyd in the Brutal Fish Racing Honda Civic Type R FK7

Cheah took the final podium spot by beating his fellow countryman by six-tenths of a second, while Files lost two more places thanks to the previous contact to finish seventh overall.

After the race, Files protested against the contact with Lloyd, who also, in turn, protested against the contact he received from Cheah. The stewards awarded 30-second suspended penalties to both Lloyd and Cheah for their various contact incidents during the race.

This left Engstler just needing a podium finish at least to try and tie the Championship lead in the last race of the season, with Lloyd not being on the podium.

Engstler doubles up to secure back to back titles in Malaysia

Luca Engstler secured his second consecutive TCR Malaysia title

Douglas Khoo started the final race from pole position on the reversed grid, however, he lost the lead to the fast-starting Kim Jinsoo in the Solite Indigo Hyundai as he took the lead briefly.

Behind, the action was frantic as Engstler, Lloyd, Files, Cheah and Gilbert Ang all resumed battle as they looked to make their way up the field and try to end their respective season on a high.

Once again, some of the best TCR Drivers from Europe showed why TCR Racing can be such an exciting spectacle, even if you have a single figure grid.

Cheah, Lloyd, Files and Gilbert Ang all resumed battle in the last race of the year.

On lap two, Cheah passed Files for third place and on the following lap was able to pass Lloyd for second place. Engstler by now had managed to take the lead and started to build a gap.

Behind, the fight for second intensified on track with Cheah, Lloyd, Files and Gilbert Ang covered by five-tenths of a second. With the various drivers so close and fighting hard, something was soon bound to kick off and we weren’t disappointed.

On the penultimate lap, Files managed to pass both Cheah and Lloyd to grab second place, whilst Lloyd, who spent most of the race fighting some of the widest Hyundai TCR cars in history, finished in fourth and saw his hopes to dethrone Engstler vanish.

Lloyd, Cheah and Files raced hard against each other in Sepang.

Thanks to his four wins vs Lloyds single victory, Engstler won the tie at the top of the Drivers Standings on countback and secured his second consecutive title.

This also means that Engstler becomes the first driver to win five TCR Series titles, an impressive feat for a driver who is rumoured to be moving up to the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) this season.

Gilbert Ang took third place overall at the end of the season, with his run of third places helping him to outscore Josh Files who ended the season in fourth place, despite missing the first two races. Nico Gruber completed the top five in the standings.

The 2020 TCR Malaysia Touring Car Championship Finale at the Sepang International Circuit

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/Heng Ying unless otherwise credited.

Until next time, all the best!