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Kusiri claims 2017 TCR Asia Series title in China
08
October
2017

Kusiri claims 2017 TCR Asia Series title in China

The final event of the hotly contested 2017 TCR Asia Series would come down to a brand new venue with a five-way fight for the top spot and touring car immortality on one of the biggest stages in the world.

Reigning champions Liqui Moly Team Engstler had points leader Kantadhee Kusiri and team-mate Diego Moran in contention, with ‘Boom’ Kusiri’s life-long rival Tin Sritrai splitting the pair, whilst R Engineering Honda drivers WS Lai and Abdul Kaathir were also in mathematical contention for the title.

Coming into a new venue in China with very few teams enjoying prior experience on the tight and twisty 3.2-kilometre, 16-turn layout, the playing field was all but leveled, but once again alongside the TCR China field, the TCR Asia rivals would have to play a strategy game on a circuit that was quickly earning a reputation as one that delivered very few overtaking opportunities.

Ultimately qualifying would see the two Thai drivers dominate the timesheets for TCR Asia, although they would both start behind TCR International star Jean Karl Vernay who was making a cameo appearance for TeamWork Motorsport in TCR China for round 11, the Frenchman starting race one from pole.

Kusiri held the advantage in the Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR to take the top spot in TCR Asia Series qualifying for both legs of the final event, but despite his advantage, the efforts of Tin Sritrai across both rounds saw the Team Thailand driver set the pace in the two 19-lap races.

In the end though, all Kusiri needed to do was keep out of trouble in order to convert his 10.5-point series lead to championship victory, handing he and Liqui Moly Team Engstlers back-to-back Driver’s and Team’s championship crowns, whilst R Engineering’s Abdul Kaathir sealed the TCR Asia Cup title, and with it, cemented Honda as the 2017 ‘Car Model of the Year’.

Round#11 (19-laps, 7 October)
Jean Karl Vernay got away comfortably at the start, the TCR International Series star gaining valuable additional miles for his assault on the International Series races also taking place at Zhejiang, but as a TCR China Series entrant for the weekend, he was not part of the TCR Asia Series battle so not a consideration for fellow front row starter and championship points leader, Kantadhee Kusiri.

As the cars came to the grid to form up for the start Abdul Kaathir was down pit lane, although it was soon clear it was part of an R Engineering strategy play to allow the Malaysian to avoid any dramas through the tight turns 1-2 complex.

For title contender Diego Moran his challenge from the second row of the grid disappeared almost immediately, the Ecuadorian suffering a technical issue on the line forcing him to restart the systems in the car and continue, albeit from well behind the pack.

Up front though Tin Sritrai got the jump on everyone from the second row to dive past Vernay and into the lead with Vernay, Andy Yan, Kusiri, Sunny Wong and Elegant Racing’s Alex Liu close behind.

By lap two Vernay forced his way to the front at turn one, and from there was not a consideration again as Yan and Kusiri pressured Sritrai for second. Meanwhile another title contender - R Engineering’s WS Lai - was caught up much further back in the pack than he would have liked, and was pushing to come forward. Sadly at turn four he made contact with TeamWork Motorsport’s Samuel Hsieh in a battle for position nine, in the process launching himself onto two wheels which did little for the dynamics of the car, the Malaysian ultimately forced to pit for inspection and from there it was a battle to the finish.

As Diego Moran worked his way brilliantly back through the field to be tenth by the close of lap three, up front Kantadhee Kusiri was pressuring outgoing 2016 TCR Asia Series champion Andy Yan, but whilst focused on that he came under fire from Yan’s NewFaster Audi team-mate Terry Huang. All this did was allow Sritrai to break free of the battle for third, but despite the fact he was up for maximum points and with three cars (Sunny Wong had also taken Kusiri for position) between he and Kusiri, the Liqui Moly Team Engstler driver would still record second in TCR Asia Series points..

Ten minutes in Diego Moran’s brilliant recovery that saw him as high as seventh was stalled after contact with one of the TCR China entries over position, the #32 Volkswagen forced to limp back to pit lane with a deflated left front tyre.

Cruising to what looked like being his fourth win of the season, Tin Sritrai’s six second lead over Kusiri evaporated within a lap, the Team Thailand Honda swamped by the two NewFaster Audis, Wong and Kusiri within half a lap as his battled a performance issue.

This handed Kusiri a comfortable lead in TCR Asia, whilst Sritrai continued to circulate, albeit six seconds a lap slower than his original pace, the young Thai holding a podium finish for much of the remainder of the race, such was the rate of attrition at Zhejiang, ultimately crossing the line fourth for TCR Asia to keep himself in the title fight heading into the final race of the year.

Shortly afterwards another title contender was out, this time Jasper Thong, the 17-year old Audi Hong Kong pilot suffering a complete lack of brakes as he came downhill to the turn 13 hairpin, running deep into the gravel trap as a result but without any contact with the barriers.

Ultimately Vernay would take the chequered flag 23-seconds up on Andy Yan with Terry Huang across the line third. Kusiri - who looked to have the pace to take the two NewFaster Audis conserved to be a safe fourth and claim his fourth TCR Asia Series win of the year, with sixth-placed Eric K. taking P2 for TCR Asia, in the process claiming maximum points for the TCR Asia Cup. Cup points leader Abdul Kaathir was third after a mid-race driveshaft failure eliminated Douglas Khoo, with Sritrai fortunately able to hang on to fourth despite his poor pace, the team revealing afterwards an intake manifold fault which had severely cut the available power.

Moran was classified fifth after his mid-race pit stop with WS Lai the final classified TCR Asia Series finisher, the two of them sadly out of the outright championship equation, Kusiri’s win giving him 175 points to Sritrai’s 151.5, with Moran 26-points back and out of reach. 

Round#12 [FINAL] (19-laps, 7 October)
It was somewhat fitting that the final round of what had been an epic season of TCR Asia Series competition would see the points leading Thais sharing the front row, points leader Kusiri on P1 with his long-time rival Tin Sritrai alongside.

Sritrai made another fantastic start once the lights went out, winning the drag race down to turn one whilst behind him a slow starting Jasper Thong was swamped by the mid-field allowing WS Lai to charge through from two rows back, the pair that came together over the lead of the second race at Bangsaen earlier in the year once more making contact on the run down to turn one.

That dropped Thong further back into the closing pack, the Audi Hong Kong star then turned around by Alex Liu in turn one, the 17-year old moving across for a better line into the corner unaware that Liu was already committed to the corner.

Up front Sritrai held the lead from his compatriot with Andy Yan leading the TCR China field ahead of Diego Moran, Terry Huang in the second of the NewFaster Audis and the R Engineering pairing of Kaathir and Lai.

Moran was keen to get as far forward as possible knowing that if he could make it past Sritrai, he could well return to second in the championship, so he was pushing hard and on lap three made a move at turn four to counter Andy Yan but it back-fired on the run down to turn five with Terry Huang filling the gap behind Yan. Moran moved across for the apex of the corner and made contact with the second NewFaster Audi which forced him into a spin.

He recovered quickly but by that stage Kaathir had pulled alongside however Moran held the inside run for turn six, forcing the Honda driver back to sixth, which quickly became seventh as team-mate Lai used the opportunity to move forward one position.

By mid-race Sritrai looked comfortable up front whilst Moran had inherited fourth with Terry Huang dropping back after his contact with the Ecuadorian, Kaathir in the process moving to fifth past his R Engineering team-mate.

Ultimately Kusiri allowed Yan through to second to try and go after Sritrai, the Liqui Moly Team Engstler driver opting to watch from third instead of being pressured by the 2016 TCR Asia Series champion, but try as he might, even Yan was unable to stop Sritrai going on to claim his fourth win of the year, and with it, seal second in the championship.

Kusiri also let the recovering Diego Moran through to try and move forward in the hope they could effect a 1-2 finish in the Driver’s Championship, Moran doing everything he could to take Yan for position, but despite making it through at one point exiting the final corner, Yan was not so accommodating, taking second on the line, with Moran and Kusiri completing the TCR Asia Series podium.

Fourth across the line - sealing the TCR Asia Cup in the process - was R Engineering’s Abdul Kaathir, whilst his team-mate - who looked set for a fifth placed finish, was into the barriers on the exit of turn two with one lap to go after losing a battle for position with former TCR Asia Series regular Filipe de Souza.

Alex Liu recovered from the disappointment of round 11 to claim fifth for TCR Asia and second in the TCR Asia Cup with the recovering Jasper Thong right behind and Liu’s Elegant Motorsport team-mate Eric K seventh ahead of Viper Niza Racing’s Douglas Khoo.

In the battle for ‘Car Model of the Year’ honours, Sritrai’s round 12 victory effectively sealed the Japanese manufacturer’s win, keeping Honda on top to claim another championship victory in TCR Asia.

What the driver’s had to say;

Kantadhee Kusiri - #2 Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR
“I’m lucky because I think the Volkswagen was much better in the corners, and the team gave me a very good car. I just wanted to win the championship this weekend, so my focus wasn’t on the races so much as finishing strongly in the points.”

Diego Moran - #32 Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR
“I’m not 100% happy with my first race today, but unfortunately that’s racing. I enjoyed the whole championship a lot and considering this is my first time racing in Asia, and in these types of cars I am quite happy with my pace and I’m looking forward to another season to improve my position even further.”


Tin Sritrai - #79 Team Thailand Honda Civic TCR
“First I want to congratulate Kantadhee Kusiri the new TCR Asia Series champion. This race was a real challenge for me because I don’t think the Honda worked as well on the many corners, but my team and JAS Motorsport worked very hard to improve it across the weekend and we were able to get the win in the second race. Bangsaen was the highlight for me this year, winning two races in front of my home fans.”

Abdul Kaathir - #23 R Engineering Honda Civic TCR
“I’m lost for words, I can’t believe it. As a team we worked so hard this year to achieve this result, and to finish the year as the TCR Asia Cup points winner with an outright win as well was fantastic. I have to thank our engineers, all our hard working crew and of course, R Engineering for providing a perfect car.”

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Zhejiang Circuit, China
Round#12 - 2017 TCR Asia Series (7 October, 2017)
1. 79. Tin Sritrai - Team Thailand Honda Civic TCR - 19-laps
2. 82. Andy Yan - NewFaster Audi RS3 LMS TCR# +2.393
3. 32. Diego Moran - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR +3.081
4. 2. Kantadhee Kusiri - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR +8.253
5. 23. Abdul Kaathir* - R Engineering Honda Civic TCR +10.847
6. 31. Alex Hui - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# +14.802
7. 81. Terry Huang - NewFaster Audi RS3 LMS TCR# +15.164
8. 26. Filipe de Souza - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# +30.817
9. 9. Bao Wei Deng - LEO109 Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR# +31.712
10. 99. Alex Liu*. - Elegant Sports Team Seat Léon TCR +35.053
11. 5. Jasper Thong* - Audi Hong Kong Audi RS3 LMS TCR +40.307
12. 98. Eric K*. - Elegant Sports Team Seat Léon TCR +56.608
13. 66. Hong Yu Cai - TrackFun-Linky Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR# +57.930
14. 58. Kai Bong Lo - HE Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# +1:09.065
15. 791. Hao Wen Zhou - AVM Racing Seat Léon TCR# +1:11.172
16. 65. Douglas Khoo* - Viper Niza Racing Seat Léon TCR +1:25.621

DNF. 39. WS Lai - R Engineering Honda Civic TCR - 17-laps
DNF. 21. Lin Li Feng - NewFaster Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 5-laps
DNF. 62. Alex Fung - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 5-laps
DNF. 77. Hao Hu - LEO109 Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 1-lap

Qualifying#2 (6 October, 2017)
1. 2. Kantadhee Kusiri - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 1:34.861
2. 79. Tin Sritrai - Team Thailand Honda Civic TCR - 1:35.102
3. 32. Diego Moran - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 1:35.406
4. 82. Andy Yan - NewFaster Audi RS3 LMS TCR# - 1:35.856
5. 81. Terry Huang - NewFaster Audi RS3 LMS TCR# - 1:36.033
6. 23. Abdul Kaathir* - R Engineering Honda Civic TCR - 1:36.398
7. 26. Filipe de Souza - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 1:36.448
8. 31. Alex Hui - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 1:36.633
9. 5. Jasper Thong* - Audi Hong Kong Audi RS3 LMS TCR - 1:36.720
10. 62. Alex Fung - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 1:37.043
11. 99. Alex Liu* - Elegant Sports Team Seat Léon TCR - 1:37.122
12. 39. WS Lai - R Engineering Honda Civic TCR - 1:37.382
13. 9. Bao Wei Deng - LEO109 Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR# - 1:37.542
14. 98. Eric K*. - Elegant Sports Team Seat Léon TCR - 1:37.560
15. 65. Douglas Khoo* - Viper Niza Racing Seat Léon TCR - 1:38.090
16. 58. Kai Bong Lo - HE Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 1:38.140

Round#11 - 2017 TCR Asia Series (6 October, 2017)
1. 31. JK Vernay - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 19-laps
2. 82. Andy Yan - NewFaster Audi RS3 LMS TCR# +23.667
3. 81. Terry Huang - NewFaster Audi RS3 LMS TCR# +24.201
4. 2. Kantadhee Kusiri - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR +26.991
5. 9. Bao Wei Deng - LEO109 Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR# +48.741
6. 98. Eric K*. - Elegant Sports Team Seat Léon TCR +1:15.398
7. 58. Kai Bong Lo - HE Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# +1:18.117
8. 21. Hao Wang - NewFaster Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# +1:20.929
9. 23. Abdul Kaathir* - R Engineering Honda Civic TCR +1:22.212
10. 79. Tin Sritrai - Team Thailand Honda Civic TCR +1:26.116
11. 791. PW Qi - AVM Racing Seat Léon TCR# - 18-laps
12. 62. Sunny Wong - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# 
13. 32. Diego Moran - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 
14. 77. Hao Hu - LEO109 Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# 
15. 39. WS Lai - R Engineering Honda Civic TCR - 17-laps

DNF. 65. Douglas Khoo* - Viper Niza Racing Seat Léon TCR - 11-laps
DNF. 5. Jasper Thong* - Audi Hong Kong Audi RS3 LMS TCR - 7-laps
DNF. 66. Hong Yu Cai - TrackFun-Linky Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR# - 4-laps

DNF. 26. Samuel Hsieh - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 2-laps
EXC. 99. Alex Liu* - Elegant Sports Team Seat Léon TCR 

Qualifying#1 (6 October, 2017)
1. 31. JK Vernay - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 1:34.580
2. 2. Kantadhee Kusiri - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 1:34.912
3. 79. Tin Sritrai - Team Thailand Honda Civic TCR - 1:35.162
4. 32. Diego Moran - Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR - 1:35.570
5. 82. Andy Yan - NewFaster Audi RS3 LMS TCR# - 1:35.870
6. 26. Samuel Hsieh - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 1:35.948
7. 99. Alex Liu* - Elegant Sports Team Seat Léon TCR - 1:36.342
8. 81. Terry Huang - NewFaster Audi RS3 LMS TCR# - 1:36.402

9. 62. Sunny Wong - TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 1:36.987
10. 23. Abdul Kaathir* - R Engineering Honda Civic TCR - 1:37.388
11. 9. Bao Wei Deng - LEO109 Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR# - 1:37.944
12. 5. Jasper Thong* - Audi Hong Kong Audi RS3 LMS TCR - 1:37.970
13. 58. Kai Bong Lo - HE Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 1:38.209
14. 21. Hao Wang - NewFaster Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR# - 1:38.283
15. 39. WS Lai - R Engineering Honda Civic TCR - 1:38.382
16. 66. Hong Yu Cai - TrackFun-Linky Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR# - 1:38.733
17. 65. Douglas Khoo* - Viper Niza Racing Seat Léon TCR - 1:38.739
18. 98. Eric K*. - Elegant Sports Team Seat Léon TCR - 1:38.918

* TCR CUP # TCR China 

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2017 Driver’s Championship points (adjusted after round 12 of 12)
1. Kantadhee Kusiri (188-points), 2. Tin Sritrai (176.5), 3. Diego Moran (167), 4. WS Lai (137), 5. Abdul Kaathir (131), 6. Jasper Thong (94), 7. Eric K. (86), 8. Alex Liu (61.5), 9. Douglas Khoo (46), 10. Shaun Thong (40), 11. KK Wong (18), 12. SK Tong (12), 13. Alex Fong (2)

2017 TCR Cup Driver’s Championship points (adjusted after round 12 of 12)
1. Abdul Kaathir (227-points), 2. Jasper Thong (166), 3. Eric K. (148), 4. Douglas Khoo (111), 5. Alex Liu (110.5), 6. KK Wong (41), 7. SK Tong (30), 7. Alex Fong (10)

2017 Team’s Championship points (adjusted after round 12 of 12)
1. Liqui Moly Team Engstler (357-points), 2. R Engineering (272), 3. Team Thailand (176.5), 4. Elegant Racing Team (165.5), 5. Audi Hong Kong (136), 6. Viper Niza Racing (46), 7. Phoenix Racing Asia (12)

2017 Car Model of the Year points (adjusted after round 10 of 12)2
1. Honda Civic TCR (384.5-points), 2. Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR (371), 3. Seat Leon TCR (202.5), 4. Audi RS3 LMS TCR (160) 
#TCRAsiaSeries

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44 Jalan Kemajuan
Section 12/18
Petaling Jaya 46200
Malaysia

 

 

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