TCR: Engstler gets his first TCR Middle East title as curtain falls on ME series

TCR: Engstler gets his first TCR Middle East title as curtain falls on ME series

Bahrain International Circuit – 23 / 24 February 2018

Victory in Race 1 gives Luca Engstler his first title
Race 2 was cancelled due to weather conditions

At the age of 17, Luca Engstler has become the youngest driver ever to claim a title in any TCR series. The German teenager had made a stunning debut in the category last year, winning the opening race of the TCR Middle East Series at Dubai and later in the season was awarded with the TCR Germany’s Rookie Trophy.
The start for his second year was even more impressive: another victory at Dubai in the 24-hour race counting towards the 24H TCE Series and then three wins out of five races in the TCR Middle East.
Engstler was determined to settle the matter in ‘full attack mode’ (to use his own words). He claimed pole position on Friday and then – in a very unusual rainy evening for the region – he won Race 1 in an authoritative way. The title was his and nobody paid attention to the cancellation of the second race because of the weather conditions.

Despite the 30 kilos of maximum Success Ballast on board of his Volkswagen Golf GTI, Engstler seemed to flly on the wet track, improving his times and leading gap consistently, lap after lap.

Giacomo Altoè, the winner of the season’s opening race at Abu Dhabi, was not even in the position to challenge his competitor. He had struggled in the previous event at Dubai with his Audi laden by the Success Ballast and was never on the pace with Engstler in Bahrain. Eventually he pocketed a third place that was worth the second position in the Drivers’ standings ahead of Engstler’s teammate Florian Thoma. The young Swiss made a great recovery today, climbing up to second after a poor start.

The icing on the cake for the Liqui Moly Team Engstler was the Teams’ title, grasped with a comfortable advantage of 53 points.

Race 1 – Luca Engstler is champion in the… rain!

Luca Engstler secured the 2018 TCR Middle East title in a Race 1 in Bahrain that will certainly be remembered because of the… heavy rain (certainly not an usual event in this part of the world) that poured and got even harder throughout the entire evening.

The bad weather did not impress Engstler who took a very good start from pole position in his Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTI and pulled away steadily towards the chequered flag. His teammate Florian Thoma took second to offer another 1-2 finish to the German squad, which clinched the Teams’ title as well.

After a very cautious start, the Swiss charged back from fifth to take P2, after some nice fights with the drivers sporting the colours of the Adria International Raceway/TCR Academy. Among those, Lorenzo Veglia (VW Golf) was the best placed in the early stages, before he was forced to bow to Giacomo Altoè and Jordi Oriola, both in Audi RS3 LMS cars, when the rain got heavier.
The podium finish allowed Altoè to secure the runner-up honours in the Drivers’ standings ahead of Thoma.
With the title decided in Race 1 and track conditions getting worse, the Race Director, after consulting all drivers during a short meeting, decided to cancel Race 2. Certainly a history-making feat in Middle East’s motorsports!

Key facts

Start – After two extra formation laps because of the wet track, the race is off, with Engstler pulling away perfectly; Jordan and Thoma have a slower start and are passed by Veglia and Altoè
Lap 1 – Engstler leads from Veglia and Altoè, while there is big fight between Oriola, Thoma and Jordan for fourth; Himmo spins at the last corner and rejoins
Lap 2 – Engstler and Veglia seem capable of pulling away, as Altoè can’t keep their pace
Lap 5 – With the rains becoming harder, the gaps increase: Engstler is 5 seconds clear of Veglia and 7 of Altoè
Lap 7 – Al Alawi and Ryba fight for seventh
Lap 8 – Thoma is in a charging pace, he passes Altoè for third and starts chasing Veglia
Lap 11 – Thoma closes in on Veglia and is now half-a-second behind
Lap 12 – Thoma attacks and passes Veglia for second
Lap 13 – Himmo goes off track and remains stuck in the gravel
Lap 15 – The rain pours harder, while Ryba serves a drive-through for overtaking Al Awali with four wheels out of the track
Lap 17 – The fight is now between Veglia and Altoè for a podium position, the two young Italians are separated by 0.5 seconds
Lap 18 – Veglia is passed by Altoè; soon afterwards Veglia’s car aquaplanes and Oriola takes the opportunity to steal fourth position from the Italian
Lap 20 – The rain intensifies and all the drivers are trying to stay on the track rather than fighting for the positions
Lap 23 – Engstler wins from Thoma and Altoè


Quotes from the podium finishers
Luca Engstler (winner): “It’s the perfect evening for me! I am really happy of this success and the TCR Middle East title! The car felt perfectly, although track conditions were really tricky. This is certainly not the kind of weather you expect to find in Bahrain, so the whole experience feels a little bit crazy… but I was not afraid of the wet track, as it actually fits the Golf quite well. I had a good start and then really enjoyed the driving. I want to thank my team for the excellent work done, and I also want to congratulate my friend Giacomo [Altoè] for being a great and fair rival in this series. We had good fights, always very clean and nice, and it was a pleasure competing against him.”

Florian Thoma (second): “It was a great result for the team and I am very happy with my podium finish. Believe it or not, this was my first race in the rain ever. Except a half-hour test at Hockenheim, I had never driven a race car in the rain before, and certainly did not expect to do that in the Middle East! Considering this, I am very satisfied with my performance. I was too cautious at the start and lost positions but when I got a fair sense of where the limits were today, my pace was good and I could climb up to second, after some nice and clean overtaking manoeuvres.”

Giacomo Altoè (third): “First of all, congratulations to Luca [Engstler] for his title, he was the strongest and deserved it. Under the circumstances, finishing third and on the podium here was a very good result. Despite a faultless race, there was no way to keep with the pace of the Golf cars. The conditions were really difficult, with a lot of water everywhere and streams crossing the track in some points. Because of the rain and darkness, but also the track’s surrounding, it was very difficult to have reference points and towards the end of the race, driving was becoming quite risky.”

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1 hr ago


2019 Best clips 🎥

The #AustralianGP couldn't have got off to a more dramatic start! 💢

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I was sitting right in front of this when it happened!! I've never seen a rider get so high...

That was a vicious highside I'm glad they both came out ok

Lukas Griganavičius


Nana Yaw


Spat out off the track...

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13 hrs ago


Meet Yan Ting - an F1 volunteer in Singapore for ten years 😊

One of hundreds helping F1 run safely and smoothly every year 👊
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Heck I'd volunteer as well. So you don't get paid with money. You get paid with the excitement of being part of the greatest sport and just plain fun.

I would volunteer... What a privilege to be a part of this amazing sport and to have the chance to get so close to the action. Everyone appreciates all of the hard work they do in all weathers and if they didn't love it they wouldn't do it... Thanks to everyone who helps to keep the sport that I love going ❤️🏁🏁🏁

Considering the volume of comments complaining they don’t get paid you don’t hear volunteers complaining. They do it for the love of Motorsport and the chance in some small way to be involved. Not everything has to be about money!

I just don't get it. F1 is a multi million if not billion £ business. So why don't theses fantastic people get paid? Without them there would be no F1. Don't treat people's passion as an excuse to use and not pay them for their very important work. Am I wrong?

Singapore F1 has the greatest staff & so friendly

The very fact that F1 moves so many millions, and there are unpaid volunteers workers sickens me to be honest. Selling people the idea that by volunteering, they are doing good, they have a super opportunity, post their face on social media, making them feel special, and saving yourself the wagesnin the process sickens me.I love watching the races, the tech etc, but F1 shame on you. I'm pretty sure there is no one in the F1 scene short of a few quid, and I'm pretty sure that some of these volunteers would most definitely appreciate the money as well as the chance to work on the circuit. Everything isn't about the money unless your a capitalist company making money off the backs of others. Shame on you f1

This is my good friend and fellow SGP marshal Yeo Yan Ting...

For everyone complaining about the free labor. Its VOLUNTEER work not like it's against anyone's will. Secondly volunteer for a race sometime and you will understand the point. I volunteer for the pikes peak hill climb every year. I get to experience a badass event for a little work while others are paying $180+ for the same experience. A little free work is well worth it.

Why are people complaining about money? They are volunteers not slave. I volunteered at the Montreal tennis tournament for over 10 years. Doing office work. I got to watch all the matches for free and got to meet/talk to all kinds of players like Agassi, Graf, Hingis and Federer. It was fun. I’m guessing the people volunteering at the race gets to watch F1 for free and see/hear the cars up close. For any race fan that is just priceless.

It is impossible to not get paid, unless you do work for a non profit organization. I'm very sure the "volunteer" name is just that, a name, I refuse to believe F1 is exploiting human workforce to save some bucks.

I'd bang Yan Ting I'd have her panting #yeahman

I agree...why can’t F1 pay these people. We lost one volunteer due to an accident at the Montreal F1 a few years ago. Is it worth volunteering for nothing and risking your life?

Why does F1 even need volunteers when you are willing to spend endless piles of money on everything else? Props to the people who do it but when you charge 5k for Paddock Club tickets it seems to me you could do with paying all these wonderful people for their work...

Singapore GP is the best one I have been to. Vietnam is next on my list as I have fancied a holiday there for a while but will take me a few years to save enough money.

Why is everyone so outraged that the volunteers don’t get paid? People travel all over the world for some events and this is something they’re willing to do as a hobby/do it in their spare time. I’ve been doing it for a year now and did this years Singapore Grand Prix. I would always volunteer to do this as it is an absolute privilege to be officiating at such an awesome event. The organisers always look after us so well with meals and nice souvenirs. So for those that are outraged by it. Maybe you should come join us sometime.

She speaks pretty well. Of course her accent is really hearable, but her grammar is on a high level!

With the money the sport brings in they should be payed.

Those idiots that run F1 should pay these people, sky and channel 4 pay their team money.. loads I imagine.. probably don’t get even a Christmas box

Do they get paid for their work? because the tickets are very expensive

More on these behind the scenes people they're also very important 😎

Really enjoyed my days in timing and scoring.

That’s amazing! So jealous she gets to work on track !

I wonder why no one sponsors them.🤔. Plenty of space for logos on their overalls. Might earn themselves a few quid too.

Many people asked ...."Why do you still officiate/volunteer? .. Do they pay you? "......If you have to ask, you simply won’t understand

Seriously, no volunteers please, alwais professionals. It can risk lives in the accidents.

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14 hrs ago


Check out the new look of the Ducati Team for 2020! 👀 ... See Less

Check out the new look of the Ducati Team for 2020! 👀

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I cant wait to see what the new honda will look like....

Unfortunately in Brazil we will not be able to see this top bike this year, the closed TV channel that was broadcasting did not renew and we ended up staying at a loss !!! Too bad for Moto Gp lovers in Brazil, last year without a super bike and this year without a Moto Gp !!! What the hell!!!

You can't really see the motorcycles because of all the sponsors but I suppose they look great, it's Ducati.

Je ne trouve pas qu il y est de grand changement une écriture en noir a la place du blanc . Ducati fait du Honda . Les couleur de pramac était belle

Killer look! Love it! 😎 great job! It has been the most 'non traditional looking' bike and it's getting more and more different and high tech looking.

Should’ve been Miller with Dovi. Much better rider on the second rate bike, would smash it on the factory bike. Typical euro decision

Great looking bike, a pity you don't have a rider to exploit its full potential. Jack Miller would fill that requirement perfectly.

Amazing, Ducati fan here but hope we have a good season this year. Im more on, close competition and pushing the skill and other bikes to the limits. That's more exciting keeping my *ss on my couch.

Awesome lookin bikes, Hope their up the pointy end more often but with 43 on the front 🇦🇺

Looks more WSB than Moto gp. Sponsors looking crowded and messy. Also needs more white. Just my opinion but it's a shame as it used to be the best looking bike and the best colour.

A top innovative team with mediocre riders. Always poor rider choices who can win few races but not championship. Give this bike to Bagnaia/Miller and see the magic. The biggest mistake was getting rid of Lorenzo.

Hoping for consistency for top riders and teams this season to challenge the atomic ant!🐜

Look great but I don’t think the 2 of them together can catch. 93

Ducats is under VW motors so it's Germany machine & Italian passion design qual to super straight line speed, hopefully they worked on the cornering speed so well

Looking forward to the Honda v Ducati battle again.Amazing to watch,great TV.

So looking forward to the start of the new season 😁😁

Bikes look amazing...So do the performance....Pity that Ducati doesn't have a championship winning rider...🤕🤕..

It’s the same as last year, the year before, and every other year.

Essas Ducatti estão tops é só esperar o show✊

L avant de lla moto est bien plus affûté

la seule chose visible qui a changé c'est les couleurs du casque de Dovi 😉

Linda che, aunqe para mi nunca superara en el aspecto visual a la gp7 u 8

Bonsoir je voudrais savoir si le Moto GP est toujours diffusé sur Canal+ cette année

Go Dovi all MotoGP fans support you for win MotoGP titles and we so boring watch marq win the boring titles

I can't see the motorcycle name anywhere on the the bikes, what the heck.

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