The TCR Asia Series made a welcome return to competition at Malaysia’s iconic Sepang Circuit last month with Hyundai N by Z.Speed team-mates Max Hart and Zhendong Zhang sharing victory in the opening two races of the ten-race program. The pair line up again this weekend and are expected to continue their outstanding form, although they know from past experience that it won’t be an easy weekend. 

By Thomas Pfister

South Korea’s Doyun Hwang was actually the first driver to cross the finish line in the second round of the Series, a fantastic effort after a tough qualifying session saw him off the front row in the reverse-grid second race, but he was judged to have been outside of his grid box at the start and delivered a 30-second post-race penalty dropping him back down the order, but he’d shown enough during both opening races to put his Z.Speed team-mates on notice. 

For Umar Abdullah, he had a solid run last time out but was clearly out-paced by the three Hyundai N by Z.Speed drivers, Honda and JAS Motorsport though have enjoyed great success at Sepang in the past and they will be looking to apply that experience to help the Delta Garage Racing Team operation to extract the best for the Indonesian driver. 

Typically the TCR Cup battle has delivered some outstanding racing, the opening two rounds concluding with Indonesia’s Dypo Fitramadhan emerging as points leader ahead of compatriot Benny Santoso, Dypo however forced to miss this round due to commitments overseas, handing Hyundai N by Z.Speed’s Santoso an opportunity to build on his strong opening round performance. 

Like the outright points leaders though Santoso will have no shortage of competition, Qiren Liu and team-mate Nan Jiang (Z.Speed Motorsport Hyundai), Budiyanto (JVS Group Racing Team Audi) and Haojie Yang (Z.Speed Motorsport Hyundai) all capable of making the Cup podium, the quartet rarely far apart during the opening two rounds. 

For Hyundai, they could not have enjoyed a better start to the season with outright wins in both races last month, as well as success in TCR Cup. Audi’s Budiyanto showed impressive pace on his TCR Asia debut and will be looking for more this weekend as he looks to return Audi Sport to the TCR podium. 

Additional entries for upcoming TCR Asia rounds

Additional entries have been flagged for the coming rounds, Thailand in particular attracting strong interest, Kantasak Kusiri one of the most popular of the past TCR Asia champions, prompting a string of Thai entries in the following seasons. 

Always a demanding venue for the drivers in the heat of the day, the TCR Asia teams will receive two 30-minute practice sessions on Friday, ahead of the back-to-back qualifiers on Saturday morning, round three coming Saturday afternoon, with round four at midday on Sunday. 

Temperatures are expected to be in the low 30s, with late storms scheduled for Friday and Saturday where humidity will be at its peak before dropping significantly on Sunday. 

The racing will be streamed online via tcr.tv and the TCR TV YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoSlmLSprEnTz7HjmMb7HBw

Header photo credit: Thomas Pfister

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