TCR Germany regulars Liqui Moly Team Engstler shone in the opening round of the TCE 24H Series in Dubai with victory in both the TCR class and the overall classifications. It marks a perfect debut for the updated Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR which underwent a face-lift over the winter break, proving the car will yet again be a front-runner ahead of the upcoming season.
Their line-up had already signaled the team out as one of the TCR class front-runners, featuring the likes of VLN front-runner Benjamin Leuchter and 2017 TCR International Series champion Jean-Karl Vernay alongside young TCR hotshots Luca Engstler and Florian Thoma – the latter making his endurance racing debut.
A relatively strong qualifying meant they lined their car up third in class on the grid but a string of consistent stints saw them make their way up to second by the halfway point of the race, behind the LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing SEAT which also featured a star line-up – Antti Buri among them. When the SEAT faltered briefly later in the race, Team Engstler remained consistent and leapfrogged the Finnish/Dutch squad by the checkered flag, Bonk Motorsport’s Audi completing the podium behind them.
“All four riders delivered a great and above all very consistent performance over the entire 24 hours. Vernay and Leuchter already brought their experience as a factory rider to Dubai, for Luca and Florian it was the first 24 hour race – their lap times were still very fast and all four riders could master the challenge together at an extremely high level,” said Kurt Treml, sporting director at Team Engstler.
“The class victory in the TCR standings is great, but still number 1 in the touring car ranking and thus number 24 in the overall standings in the midst of high-profile GT vehicles is something very special, on which the entire team is very proud,” emphasized Treml, their finish of twenty-fourth overall putting them ahead of their GT4 rivals and amongst some GT3 competition.