TCR: Luca Engstler and Florian Thoma share race victories in TCR Middle East International Series at the Dubai Autodrome

TCR: Luca Engstler and Florian Thoma share race victories in TCR Middle East International Series at the Dubai Autodrome

Dubai Autodrome – 26 / 27 January 2018 –

After winning pole position on Saturday with Luca Engstler, the German team dominated both races with Luca himself and Florian Thoma. And it was not by chance, because these were the team’s fourth and fifth consecutive victories at Dubai, following those in last year’s TCR Middle East opening event (by Luca and Brandon Gdovic) and that obtained two weeks ago in the 24H Dubai (again by Luca, Thoma, Jean-Karl Vernay and Benjamin Leuchter). Such a brilliant streak of wins proved that this racetrack has no secrets for the team’s crew that knows how to set up their Volkswagen Golf cars here, even in spite of the Success Ballast.

In fact, none of the other drivers was able to stay on Engstler’s and Thoma’s pace. Not even Giacomo Altoè who struggled for the whole weekend with the 30 kilos of Success Ballast that significantly affected the performance of his Audi RS3 LMS.
Both races provided some fighting. Lorenzo Veglia elbowed his way through the field in Race 1 and recovered from 11th on the grid to third at the chequered flag. He seemed to be able to improve that record in Race 2 as he crossed the line second, but was then hit by a penalty for a race incident, just like in Abu Dhabi’s Race 2 when he was stripped of the victory.

In today’s second race Mat’o Homola survived a final lap full of contacts to collect a well deserved second place, while Giovanni Altoè failed to claim his first podium result after he got the worst of the battle.

The title fight has now taken a clear shape as a two-way battle between Engstler (89 points) and Giacomo Altoè (75), with Homola in third position (64) waiting for them to make a false step.

The series will come to its end at the Bahrain International Circuit on February 23/24.

Race 1 – Luca Engstler in a league of his own

Luca Engstler dominated the third round of the TCR Middle East International Series, inflicting a six-second gap to Giacomo Altoè. Lorenzo Veglia completed the podium.

Engstler made good use of his pole position and sprinted to the lead. His Volkswagen Golf car fitted with new front tyres, the German youngster was able to set a very fast pace in the first laps, creating a gap that Altoé was not able to fill.
Thinking about the championship, the Italian focused on bringing his car to the second place and keeping a rampant Veglia at bay. The latter made up of yesterday’s disappointing qualifying result that relegated him to 11th on the grid. He got past four or five cars at the start and then recovered up to third overtaking Kai Jordan and Mat’o Homola.

Key facts
Start – Engstler sprints to take the lead from Giacomo Altoè and Jordan; Veglia takes a brilliant start and moves up from 11th to 6th; Kroes and Oriola make contact on the straight and the latter brushes the pit wall
Lap 1 – Homola overtakes Jordan for third; Kroes and Thoma make contact and the Dutch driver is forced to pit and retire
Lap 2 – Veglia overtakes Jordan for 4th; Engstler pulls away
Lap 3 – Giovanni Altoè threats Jordan’s 5th place
Lap 4 – Engstler stretches his lead to 3.5 seconds
Lap 5 – Veglia overtakes Homola for third
Lap 8 – Thoma overtakes Giovanni Altoé for 6th
Lap 9 – Thoma overtakes Jordan for 5th
Lap 10 – Engstler’s leading gap exceeds the five seconds
Lap 11 – Thoma tries to overtake Homola for 4th, but the latter keeps the position
Lap 12 – Oriola and Papantonis make contact at T18 while fighting for 8th place; they both continue after driving well beyond the track limits
Lap 13 – Veglia closes in on Giacomo Altoè
Lap 14 – Engstler wins from Giacomo Altoè and Veglia; Homola finishes fourth ahead of Thoma

Race 2 – Florian Thoma imitates his teammate

After Luca Engstler’s authoritative win in the first race, his teammate Florian Thoma provided the icing on the cake for the Liqui Moly Team Engstler by claiming victory in Race 2 in a similar way.

The Swiss was able to start well from the third row of the grid, took the lead from Giovanni Altoè on the first lap and then benefited from the fights behind him to pull away and score his first win in the series, his second in TCR after that in the opening event of last year’s ADAC TCR Germany at Oschersleben.

The battle for the second place was red-hot between Giovanni Altoè, Mat’o Homola, Lorenzo Veglia and Engstler. A series of clashes on the final lap ended up with Veglia crossing the line second, followed by Homola, Engstler and Altoè. But Veglia was later demoted by a 30-second penalty for a previous incident with Costas Papantonis.
Giovanni’s younger brother Giacomo was classified sixth after struggling to recover.

Key facts
Start – Papantonis takes advantage of the pole position on the reverse grid and takes the lead from Giovanni Altoè and Thoma
Lap 1 – Giovanni Altoè and Thoma overtake Papantonis, then Thoma steals the lead from the Italian
Lap 2 – Homola tries in vain to overtake Giovanni Altoè for third; Veglia and Engstler move up to 6th and 7th respectively
Lap 3 – Papantonis and Homola swap positions a couple of times; Jordan overtakes Kroes for 8th
Lap 4 – Veglia and Engstler overtake Oriola and climb to 5th and 6th
Lap 5 – Thoma has a leading gap of two seconds
Lap 6 – Veglia hits Papantonis who crashes at T11 and retires from 4th; Giacomo Altoè overtakes Kroes for 8th
Lap 7 – Giovanni Altoè bravely defends his second position from Homola
Lap 8 – Veglia and Engstler are in a close fight for the 4th place
Lap 10 – The fight for the second place involves Giovanni Altoè, Homola, Veglia and Engstler
Lap 11 – Veglia overtakes Homola for third
Lap 12 – Jordan overtakes Oriola for 6th
Lap 13 – Giacomo Altoè overtakes Oriola for 7th
Lap 14 – Thoma sails to victory; behind him the fight between Homola, Veglia and Giovanni Altoè results in a three-car contact; Veglia squeezes among his rivals and crosses the line second, but is later penalised for his incident with Papantonis


Quotes from the podium finishers in both races

Luca Engstler (winner of Race 1 and third in Race 2): “In the first race my car was absolutely brilliant! Compared to the others I had a big advantage: new front tyres that I had saved from yesterday’s practice sessions. This made me able to push during the first laps like in qualifying. In this way I created a comfortable gap and then I just had to control the race in the second half, taking care of the tyres and brakes.
The second race was a tough one. I was driving very aggressively in the first laps, fighting with Veglia. Then I said to myself that it was better to try and follow him, because he could open the way. And it worked. The car was good, but of course not as good as in the first race, because when you have to fight for the positions it’s completely different. For example, when I was trailing the cars in front of me the water temperature peaked over 100°. Eventually the third place was a great result for the title fight.”

Florian Thoma (winner of Race 2): “I have to say that it was quite easy at the beginning, because I managed to overtake a lot of cars at the start and then took the lead very early. After that it was just normal driving until the end. I really have to give credit to the team for the incredible job they have done. They gave Luca and me two cars that were really faster than the others and did no give us any problems in both races. Now my goal is to finish the championship on the podium.”

Giacomo Altoè (second in Race 1): “From the beginning I was struggling a lot. I did my best to save tyres and brakes keeping a steady pace at the beginning of the race. However, with the 30 kilos of success ballast I couldn’t prevent them to wear significantly. All considered, second was a good result.”

Mato Homola (second in Race 2): “I tried my best to recover positions at the beginning of the race, but Giovanni Altoè was really driving fast. It was not possible to overtake him on the straight and I began to have some issues with the cooling of the engine. I tried several time to overtake him, but always avoiding to make contact. Then Veglia overtook me, but with all the clashes on the last lap, luckily I was classified second. I want to thank my team, and especially my mechanic Sergio. He did a great job. We cannot talk because he only speaks Italian, but he’s a nice guy and I really like him.”

Lorenzo Veglia (third in Race 1): “I took a great start and was able to pass three or four cars straight away. And then I managed to overtake some other drivers one by one without losing time. I had a very good pace and managed to closed the gap on Giacomo, but I couldn’t catch him up.”

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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11 minutes ago


WHAT an incredible race at Silverstone! 🔥

Remember you can watch now the #BritishGP 🇬🇧 race OnDemand with #VideoPass ➡️
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Suzuki love

Phil Goode

48 minutes ago


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49 minutes ago


Get well soon Dovi !! ... See Less

51 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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Great to see him challenged. He's an amazing talent but even the greatest talent on the grid with no opponents means a boring race.

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

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

Amazing race by amazing pilots.

congratulations Alex Rins you made my day

Love you #MM93💗

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.

Well done 42 rins ya dancer 😃😃😃💪👍

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.

MM i Love you 💙

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?

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

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

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.

One of the best race ever

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........


❤ MM




Glad to see mm eat some humble pie


Won't be long till all the haters start gobbling some humble pie...please swallow slowly, don't want you to choke..we need you back next year!!!..

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54 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! 💥

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Hope Dovi will be fine 🤕

Was right near this, was horrific to see bit thankfully they hobbled away

Dovi has to be the unlikeliest rider in motogp history, the amount of times he's been wiped out by others is nuts

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.

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

Hope both riders are ok wish them both a speedy recovery

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 !!

Meanwhile a footballer who has a 2mph collision with another player writhes on the grass crying foul and holding himself in agony .Bike racers are real men.

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.

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 .

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

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.

Was scary was right in front of us 😱🏍❤️

Any update news from medic about dovi's situation?

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15 hrs ago


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

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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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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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