It was a day for Thai drivers in Race 1 of the TCR Asia and TCR Thailand at Bangsaen, the nice street circuit not far from Pattaya. Pattarapol Vongprai imposed the Honda Civic of Vattana Motorsport ahead of Nattanid Leewattanavaragul (Morin Racing Cupra), with Jakraphan Davee (Alphafactory Racing Cupra) taking third.
For Pattarapol, it was the third success in TCR Thailand, meaning that he reinforced his lead in the standings. In TCR Asia, with Mitchell Cheah and Diego Moran scoreless, only Luca Engstler scored a few points and took command of the classification.
The young German, who had signed a superb pole with his Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTI, had a relatively poor start, with Lo Sze Ho (Maximum Racing Honda Civic) stealing the lead from him at Turn 1. Both Ivan Szeto (Maximum Racing Honda) and Moran (Liqui Moly Team Engstler Vokswagen) did not take start, the latter heading straight to the pits after the formation lap with a broken drive shaft.
Engstler managed to retake the lead on lap 3 and pulled away from the group, with Lo Sze Ho and Pattarapol followed by Leewattanavaragul, Davee and Cheah. The latter, though, lost his car on lap 5, hitting the barriers and prompting the safety-car out. At the restart, Engstler pulled away again, while there was a contact in one of the hairpins between the Cupra cars of Kelvin Wong and Douglas Khoo, with only the first one managing to continue. Almost at the same time, the Billionaire Boy Racing Honda of Chariya Nuya stopped along the track, resulting in another safety-car period.
At the restart, with 6 laps to go, Engstler headed straight to the pits to observe a drive through for a starting procedure infringement; this took Lo Sze Ho by surprise and the Hongkonger ran wide, dropping to fourth behind Pattarapol, Leewattanavaragul and Davee. Lo retook P3 from Davee, but stopped with a technical issue shortly after. The leading trio headed to the chequered flag with no further surprise, with the Elegant Racing duo of Alex Liu and Kelvin Wong fourth and fifth overall respectively; they topped the TCR Asia classification ahead of Engstler.
In the standings, Engstler leads Cheah by three points; Lo Sze Ho is third 16 points behind. In TCR Thailand, Pattarapol has a comfortable leading margin of 26 points ahead of Leewattanavaragul; Nuya dropped to third a further three points adrift.
The second race will start tomorrow at 11:35 local time (06:35 CET); live streaming at www.tcr-series.tv.
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