Abu Dhabi: Altoè and Engstler shares victories in TCR Middle East series opener at Yas Marina circuit

Abu Dhabi: Altoè and Engstler shares victories in TCR Middle East series opener at Yas Marina circuit

Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi – 19 / 20 January 2018

The opening event of the 2018 TCR Middle East International Series delivered a couple of eventful races at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.

Giacomo Altoè (Audi RS3 LMS run by Pit Lane Competizioni) and Luca Engstler (Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTI) emerged as the race winners and left Abu Dhabi as first and second in the standings.

Altoè claimed an authoritative lights-to-flag victory in Race 1 from a trio of Golf cars driven by Mat’o Homola, Engstler and Florian Thoma.

The second race was much more exciting with a tough battle for the lead between Lorenzo Veglia, Thoma and Engstler. The three made a few contacts that forced Thoma to retire with a broken suspension while in first position and then cost Veglia a 30-second penalty for hitting and passing Engstler on the final lap.

Giacomo Altoè left Abu Dhabi as the first series’ leader with 45 point, while Engstler is second, only one point adrift. Homola lies in third position with 33 points.

The championship will resume next week (26 and 27 January) at the Dubai Autodrome for rounds 3 and 4.

Race 1 – Giacomo Altoè wins from Homola and Engstler

Giacomo Altoè converted his pole position into a victory in the opening event of the TCR Middle East International Series at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.

The Italian driver sprinted at the start in his Audi RS3 LMS and never looked back, as he was able to keep Mat’o Homola’s Volkswagen Golf GTI at bay in the first part of the race before increasing his leading gap in the final laps.
Homola was able to maintain the second place, although he was closely chased by the Liqui Moly Team Engstler duo of Luca Engstler and Florian Thoma who also delivered a thrilling fight for the third position.
Behind them, Lorenzo Veglia overtook Kai Jordan for fifth.

Key facts
Start – Giacomo Altoè uses his pole to take the lead, while Homola jumps from third to second ahead of Engstler
Lap 1 – Giovanni Altoè overtakes Jordan for fifth
Lap 2 – Jordan retakes fifth from Giovanni Altoè; Vescovi overtakes Oriola for eighth; Papantonis overtakes Ryba for 10th
Lap 3 – Giacomo Altoè leads, but is closely followed by Homola, Engstler and Thoma
Lap 4 – Oriola and Papantonis overtake Vescovi, moving up to eighth and ninth
Lap 5 – Homola sets the fastest lap in 1:14.997
Lap 6 – Veglia overtakes Giovanni Altoè for sixth
Lap 9 – Ryba pits and retires with a broken driveshaft
Lap 10 – Oriola is chasing Giovanni Altoè for the seventh position
Lap 11 – Veglia overtakes Jordan for fifth
Lap 13 – Oriola overtakes Giovanni Altoè for seventh
Lap 14 – Thoma tries to dive inside Engstler without success
Lap 16 – Giacomo Altoè stretches his leading gap to one second ahead of Homola
Lap 18 – Homola is chased by Engstler and Thoma
Lap 20 – Thoma tries again to overtake Engstler, but the latter keeps him at bay

Local entry Costa Papantonis from Mouritsa racing…

Race 2 – Veglia beats Engstler after making contact
TCR returnee Lorenzo Veglia crossed the line first at the end of a closely-fought second race at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

After taking the front at the start, Veglia led most of the race ahead of Liqui Moly Team Engstler teammates Florian Thoma and Luca Engstler. The final laps were red-hot, with Thoma trying to find a gap; on lap 15 the young Swiss clashed with Veglia at Turn 7 and took the lead ahead of Engstler. However, two laps later Thoma was forced to retire with a broken suspension.
Engstler inherited the lead, but on the last lap he and Veglia made contact; the Italian got the better of the situation and crossed the line first, with a slim margin.

Kai Jordan finished a comfortable third ahead of Race 1 winner Giacomo Altoè and Mat’o Homola.
After the race, Veglia was given a 30-second penalty for hitting Engstler on the final lap. This dropped Italian from first to eighth, while Engstler inherited victory, with Kai Jordan and Giacomo Altoè promoted to second and third respectively.

Key facts
Start – Papantonis on pole moves before the green light; Veglia and Vescovi benefit from the situation to take first and second
Lap 1 – Oriola hits Papantonis who spins and rejoins at the back
Lap 2 – Thoma overtakes Jordan for third
Lap 3 – Engstler overtakes Jordan for fourth; Homola overtakes Giovanni Altoè for seventh
Lap 4 – Thoma overtakes Vescovi for second; Giacomo Altoè overtakes his brother for eighth
Lap 5 – Engstler overtakes Vescovi for third; Veglia defends his lead from Thoma
Lap 6 – Five drivers have a close battle for fifth: Jordan, Oriola, Homola and the Altoè brothers
Lap 9 – Jordan overtakes Vescovi for fourth; Giacomo Altoè overtakes Homola for seventh
Lap 10 – Vescovi runs wide and drops from fifth to eighth behind Oriola, Giacomo Altoè and Homola
Lap 11 – Papantonis is given a drive through for jump-start
Lap 12 – Veglia, Thoma and Engstler are in a bumper-to-bumper fight for the lead
Lap 13 – Giacomo Altoè overtakes Oriola for fifth
Lap 14 – The leading trio is covered by eight tenths only
Lap 15 – Thoma hits Veglia who runs wide and drops to third behind Engstler; Thoma is the new leader
Lap 16 – Homola overtakes Oriola for seventh
Lap 17 – Thoma pits and retires from the lead with a broken suspension; Engstler inherits the lead
Lap 18 – Giovanni Altoè overtakes Vescovi for seventh
Lap 20 – Veglia and Engstler make contact; Engstler runs wide, Veglia takes the lead and wins; Jordan completes the podium

Quotes from the podium finishers in both Races
Giacomo Altoè (Race 1 winner): “I’m super happy. I was able to make a good start and I had a very good pace to keep the lead for the whole distance. The car’s set up was perfect and everything went well. I tried not to push too much in the first half of the race to save the tyres, and this helped me to stretch my gap in the final laps.”

Mat’o Homola (second in Race 1): “I made a very good start, overtaking Luca. Maybe I could have tried to pass Giacomo as well, but I had some issues with the gearbox. Then I followed him, but his car was faster on the straight and in the quick corners. I was pushing like hell, hoping that he would make a mistake, but he didn’t. Second place in the first race is good.”

Luca Engstler (Race 2 winner and third in Race 1): “These were tough races. In the first one I had a lot of understeer and lost contact with Homola in the first half. And then I had to defend my third place from Thoma. In the second race I was in the lead, braked in the usual position, turned in and Veglia crashed into the back of my car. I’m a bit angry, because he didn’t say sorry, but I’m pleased that the Stewards decided to act.”

Lorenzo Veglia: “I was very pleased and satisfied. I didn’t think I could be so competitive on my comeback to TCR after two years of GT racing. It was a tough and thrilling race. At the beginning it looked easy, because I had a small gap, but then the two Engstler boys were on my back and it was difficult to keep them behind. We made a few contacts, but it’s part of the Touring Car game. I don’t think there was something beyond the rules.”

Kay Jordan (third in Race 2): “I made e very good start and jumped to third. This gave me a big boost to fight for the position and I was able to keep a good pace for the whole race. I’m an old man and finishing ahead of young and fast drivers like Giacomo and Homola was great, especially when you think that I hadn’t raced for six months due to a problem with a leg.”

2018 TCR Middle East Series – calendar

19/20 January – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi
26/27 January – Dubai Autodrome
23/24 February – Bahrain International Circuit

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30 minutes ago


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30 minutes ago


Get well soon Dovi !! ... See Less

33 minutes ago


Less than ecstatic after the race 👊

P2 for Marc Márquez on the day but P1 in the championship 💪

#BritishGP 🇬🇧
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Glad he talked about his concern for Dovi. That was good to hear. Sportsmanship is everything regardless of placings.

He may lose a battle here and there, but always wins the war, its part of racing. His consistency in finishing on the podium has been unmatched in recent times. Great to see him pushed and challenged by Dovi, Rins, Vinales and Quartararo.

You see he is dissapointed!!! Not a way we see marquez much....

Amazing race by amazing pilots.

marquez did loose the race.....only just, but he knows that when they showed his pit board of dovi out, that he did not have much to loose, but his competitive nature, would never allow him to settle for 2nd or third. if you want to get on the podium, you've got to out ride or out think him........

I love the whole sportsman ships these racers have for each other, 1 of the reasons to love Motogp ❤

Rins 42 faster full race

I thought he handled himself reasonably well given that he would obviously disappointed

Congrats MM u did very well fighting off Rins but at the end Rins was the winner. Well deserved win. Lets bounce back with the next race. Sad about Dovi hope he is doing ok.

congratulations Alex Rins you made my day

Uncapable of admiting the other rider's superiority on that last turn.

Sometime you have to accept lost to be a winner...

What a fantastic young man. So sad that some supposed MotoGP fans can't see beyond their hateful bias against him. Ultimately blamed himself for making a mistake on the last corner, acknowledged Rins race craft for remaining in second, and disappointed that Dovi crashed out - what more do you want?

Well done 42 rins ya dancer 😃😃😃💪👍

MM i Love you 💙

He seemed ok to me in that interview. Was a great race from start to finish.

One of the best race ever

Spoilt child. He was at max for too long and wiped out his tyres, whereas Rins never looked anything other than at ease and riding within himself which kept his tyres fresh so he could get drive out of the final corner. Marc shot his tyres hence why he nearly lost it coming through Woodcote and why he had to throttle back and had no traction.

The only time he talks about how good points are for the championship is when he loses in a race for 1st place




Glad to see mm eat some humble pie


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35 minutes ago


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2 hrs ago


What a dramatic start we saw at Silverstone! 😱

Thankfully, Fabio Quartararo and Andrea Dovizioso were able to walk away from this scary crash! 💥

#BritishGP 🇬🇧
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Hope Dovi will be fine 🤕

That was vicious. No life threatening injuries? Good day. Thank god for quality equipment.

Wishing Dovi a speedy recovery.

Dovi is out of luck this season. So sad to see a competitive rider ruling out of the race.

Hope both riders are ok wish them both a speedy recovery

Absolutely horrific. Was anxious to see if Dovi got up. Thankfully he did. Wishing both riders swift recovery.

I hope Fabio and Dovi are both okay

I was right next to this incident, both Dovi and Fabio were limping as they walked away, hope both are ok, what a fantastic race, Rins and Marc in a dogfight to the end, top day !!

Did anybody know if they have injuries?

Quel dommage pour ces deux superbes pilotes! #20

A very dangerous game yet we love it soooo much. Thanks to all rider who deliver a very competitive race every year. Dovi n Fabio, speed recovery please. I believe anyone who sit on that situation cant avoid hitting the loose bike.

Was scary was right in front of us 😱🏍❤️

Athleticism of MotoGP riders are amazing.. be safe.

Get well soon.. A big thanks to Quart and Dovi, Rossi got the 4th or else he will be 6th 😂

Dovi was lucky to walk away from that .

Hope Dovi is ok and back racing real soon

Dovi lost his memory after the crash.. 😢

I just hope that Dovi is okay that was a terrible thing to watch.

In situations where dovi needs the most points 😱

Never nice to see anyone hit the tarmac that hard. I think it could’ve been a proper scrap at the front if they had both been in the mix

Unlucky that's only an expression thoug ☺ but they're desire a luck to fulfilling their achievement

The problem started with Rins who had to brake and almost lost The front.

Why did his bike catch fire, very unusual. Just one of those things.

Any update news from medic about dovi's situation?

Both walking away? Dovi was on the brancard and in the hospital.

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3 hrs ago


"I've beaten two legends: Rossi in Texas and Marquez today" - Alex Rins

Hear his reaction after his impressive last corner win yesterday! 🏆

#BritishGP 🇬🇧
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Well done for a well deserved win! But to be a real champion, you Need to be the best more consistently.

Rins, you were great, you got everything out of the bike. in the curves you were flying with Suzuki. You are always in our hearts, great champion.

A fantastic demonstration of race craft by Rins. A brilliant race. Congratulations.

Spectacular effort, congratulations on an awesome win.

Well done mate a great ride.

You are so beautiful, Amy

Congratulations to Rins and Suzuki can’t wait to see the Suzuki boys at Phillip island 🌴

A superb race Alex. Once more, Congratulations. You certainly deserve them. A remarkable finish and fight till the finish line. This is what Moto GP should be all about. Great job 😉

A fantastic rider with an amazing machine!!! Congratulations Álex Rins!!!


Congrats Alex!!

Be great to see suzuki up near the top👍. He's a talented rider.

He can't beat Jorge 😬😬😬

Good to see marquez not on the top step this time. Congratulations Rins! Shame for Dovi.

So, MM can be beaten at his own game. Every dog has its day.

Félicitations. Superbe dépassement dans le finish. Moi j'adore le regarder car il a un style de pilotage assez particulier. Il est très droit sur la moto. On a l'impression qu'il force pas. 😁

One fact he gracefully accepts there are only two legends on the current grid: "I've beaten two legends: Rossi in Texas and Marquez today"

Credit where it's due, great ride. The Suzuki is where Yamaha should be.


Congratulations Rins👏👏💪

Love this guy so honest not like MM93

You are amazing and i mean not only as a rider but as a person TODA GAS

And the coverage kept showing the yamaha pit why

During the race Rin's was definitely by far the better rider💪🏼+ the bike Suzuki performed well under pressure 🔥..

Yamaha m1, factory team need to replace Rossi, to progress, That's from a top Rossi fan.

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15 hrs ago


Which team has impressed you most so far in 2019? ... See Less

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I would say Williams for the most reliability and focused pit crew. They're only left to improve on pace.

I'm a Mercedes fan but have to say McLaren have done an amazing job this year considering their performance over the last few years.

McLaren has impressed the most because last season they where horrible and now they are best of the rest. Also Red Bull and Honda seem to be a nice match, would love to see Max finish what Jos started with Honda. Most disappointing this season are Haas and Renault. Renault because they wanted to close the gap to the top 3, but right now they are 6th. And they are the only unreliable engine in the field right now. Haas is having a horrible season, they seem to be getting worse during the season instead of improving.

Good to see that McLaren is performing well. I'm sure the team's ability to improve will be remarkable with every race from now on.

Must say McLaren, with the team spirit that they have, and results they managed to achieve... Definitely my favourites this season.

Williams have had the worst start to an F1 team in history. And I think with their tiny budget and willpower, the amount they’ve improved is impressive. They’re still far behind but I hope to see them fighting for podiums in 2021

If Bruce was still here he would be proud of his team. Mclaren improved the most.

McLaren. Consistent development and improvement over the season so far. Alfa Romeo has been somewhat of a surprise also.

Being on top is one thing but staying at the top is the art of the game. Kudos to Mercedes for getting it right so far.... #WeMakeItLookEasy

Ferrari have been the most impressive, from being the slowest manufacturer in 2014 to being a reasonable threat and smashing McLaren and Williams comprehensibly. McLaren and Williams should just pack their bags and go home, Ferrari have nailed their coffin shut and it can be considered karma for their various indiscretions in 1990 (senna wiping out prost), 1994, 1997 (Villeneuve incident), 1998, 1999, 2007 (spygate), 2008... The British public couldn't care less about McLaren or Williams they only support whatever "British" team is winning, in this case Mercedes

I’m super impressed with Toro Rosso, hard to believe this is the old Minardi team where both their drivers exceeded all expectations!!

Ferrari fan for life, but McLaren have done an incredible job so far, considering how far back they were

Redbull and Honda engineering. The aerodynamic has been sorted and the engine now also reliable. Watch that space, they could challenge for the title next year!

None the sport is finished and I've followed the sport since the early 80s

Mclaren, they have made a huge turn around this season. With andreas seidl at the helm, the only place they re going is up

Hi F1 and fans .... with all the media attention to the envirement and green thinking etc etc etc. Is there a research or developement posted in any magizine about the developemt of how clean the F1 is today. We all know that all top research of F1 is implemented in the modern cars but i like to read how clean F1 is now in 2019 .. 👍

McLaren (and I'm faraway from being a fan! If there was a person I didn't like in Formula 1, that person was Ron Dennis). Anyway I'm glad to see them finally getting together again and mainly without supposed big shot drivers who can't do nothing but complain! Now they need to find a good engine because with Renault it will be near impossible to go any further...

McLaren is the most impressive.. Mercedes just has luck week after week.. Hoping Ferrari will get their things together for the second half..

Red Bull / HONDA‼️ Young Max may be awesome, but so is the way Red Bull has adapted to Honda’s engine. The last 2 years of griping about the Renault power plant is (almost) justified...

Haas, they have surprised me on how bad they are this year. Compared to last year this year has been terrible. They were fighting Renault for top of the mid pack, this year they are fighting for points at all.

And yet no Ferrari or anyone else 1st with the exception of RB. Hybrid era is killing with the beyond dominance of Merc being so far ahead of everyone else’s pace. Some competition would be nice! Don’t give me that bullshit of everyone should bring it to the table, there’s some crazy advantage behind the scene that you Merc fanboys don’t know about. Yawn.

It would be nice to see Mclaren back up there permanently fighting for the title. Always was a fan

the gap between top three teams and the rest is too much

Quite a gap between 3rd and 4th also between 10th and racing cars.

Williams been sandbagging the first half of the season just to give the others a glimp of hope, beast mode on in second half of the season

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