Second win and points lead for an unstoppable Engstler
09 September 2018
Luca Engstler rounded his TCR Germany weekend at the Sachsenring by taking a second win after a sensational charge from P10 on the grid, in a Race 2 that had a thrilling and unexpected finale.
Team Engstler’s youngster and his Hyundai i30 N beat a very competitive Michelle Halder and championship returnee Pascal Eberle, with Harald Proczyk taking fourth ahead of a disappointed Niels Langeveld. The Dutchman, starting from the pole, led almost the entire race, before a sudden drop of performance of his car at the beginning of the penultimate, forced him to give way to his rivals in the title fight. Engstler has now taken the lead in the standings, five points ahead of Proczyk and 11 over Langeveld, with only one event left.
At the start, Langeveld took the lead from Michelle Halder and Niko Kankkunen, but there was a multiple collision at the braking into T1 that sent Benjamin Leuchter’s Volkswagen off into the gravel trap, while Dominik Fugel’s Honda Civic limped back to the pits. Fugel’s teammate Mike Halder was hit by Engstler at T2, went wide and retired as well. The safety car was deployed.
At the restart, Langeveld pulled away, followed by Michelle Halder, Proczyk, Max Hesse and Théo Coicaud, but it was Engstler who put on the show, as he easily overtook Coicaud and Hesse before starting a fierce battle for third with Proczyk.
The fight at the top became hotter and hotter, with Michelle Halder having caught up with Langeveld and even managed to pass him briefly. The danger, though, would come from behind, as Engstler seemed unstoppable once he had managed to pass Proczyk on lap 16.
One lap later, he overtook Michelle Halder and was on the tail of Langeveld’s Audi. The two had a fierce battle, swapping positions a couple of times, but the Dutchman seemed capable to resist and keeping the lead.
However, at the end of the penultimate lap, Langeveld seemed in trouble with his car and lost momentum; in a blink of an eye he dropped to fifth. Engstler found himself in the lead and went to claim his second victory of the weekend. Michelle Halder retained the second position, while Pascal Eberle benefited from the commotion to pass Proczyk for third.
The season’s finale will be at Hockenheim on September 22/23, where Engstler, Proczyk and Langeveld will be fighting for the title with 95 points on offer. Mathematically Mike Halder is still in contention, but his gap of 62 points makes his chances purely theoretical.
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