Published on August 24th, 2018 | by Amirul Mukminin0
TCR Asia Series Makes Korean Return
The TCR Asia Series will return to South Korea for the first time in two seasons this weekend as it joins the maiden event for the new TCR Korea Series with an 18-car field that promises to deliver some outstanding racing.
The TCR Asia title battle has never been closer, with the top four drivers separated by just 21-points – less than the value of a round win – with Malaysian sensation Mitchell Cheah continuing to hold point despite a tough weekend on the streets of Chonburi in Thailand last time out.
Liqui Moly Team Engstler has all three of their drivers in the championship battle with Luca Engtsler 12 points behind his team-mate but just nine clear of round four winner Diego Moran, but the three Volkswagen drivers have to contend with Maximum Racing’s Lo Sze Ho, the Hong Kong-based Honda driver claiming the win last time out at Bangsaen and he sits just three points from the series lead.
They will have no shortage of rivals though, including reigning TCR Asia Series champion Kantadhee Kusiri who returns – not with his championship winning Engstler team – but with the team who claimed the event win last time TCR Asia was at KIC, Malaysia’s Viper Niza Racing.
Then, it was local hero Roelof Bruins who starred – interestingly with the #1 on the door (2015 TCR Asia champion Michael Choi having retired at the end of the maiden season) – proving the worth of local knowledge, which is where the TCR Korea debutantes could have an impact.
Bruins showed that track experience can be of use, especially using the long KIC straights to advantage, something which the TCR Asia regulars will need to discover quickly, with very few of them having past experience of the Korean circuit. One who does however is Douglas Khoo who formed part of the field last time out and will be looking to use that experience to tackle the TCR Asia Cup regulars for valuable points this weekend.
Bruins might not be entered in the field, but his presence will be in the pits, the Dutch-Korean driver managing the Indigo Racing team – for which he competes in GT cars within Asia – from pit lane, keeping a close eye on drivers Charlie Kang and Cho Hoon Hyun, both of whom will campaign the new Hyundai i30 N TCR.
Kang is no stranger to the i30 N TCR having campaigned the car in this year’s Nurburgring 24 Hour event, the journalist and part-time racer helping the Korean manufacturer to fourth in class, gaining valuable experience behind the wheel in the process, that – alongside his KIC experience – could make him one of the wildcards for the TCR Asia Series regulars to negotiate as they look to build their championship hopes.
With experienced GT regular Andrew Kim also entered in the field in an E-Rain Motorsport Volkswagen, the locals – alongside reigning champion Kantadhee Kusiri – will provide plenty of competition for the championship contenders, although many of them will not be TCR Asia point-scorers for the weekend, something the TCR Asia teams will need to remember in the heat of battle.