TCR Middle East
Luca Engstler was crowned champion in Bahrain
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 the season's finale at Bahrain International Circuit and started by claiming pole position on Friday. The day after – 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.
“It was 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,” said the new champion.
Giacomo Altoè, the winner of the season’s opening race at Abu Dhabi, was not even in the position to challenge his competitor, but pocketed a third place that was worth the second position in the Drivers’ standings ahead of Engstler’s teammate Florian Thoma who was classfied second in the last race.
The icing on the cake for the Liqui Moly Team Engstler was the Teams’ title, grasped with a comfortable advantage of 53 points.