René Münnichhas taken his third consecutive victory in the 2019 TCR Middle East Series this weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Despite taking pole position for the event, the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsportteam owner felt dissatisfied with his qualifying run after struggling to get to grip with his tyres, but was nevertheless able to stretch a healthy lead over Red Camel-Jordans.nl’s Luc Breukers (#101) come the chequered flag. Münnicheven had enough pace to set the fastest lap of the race – a 2m 24.465s – with only 90 seconds of the event left to run.
“I was going slower in the beginning to save tyres, and the kerbs here are so harsh, you could easily break something, but in the end, the car has really good pace,” the race winner explained. “I think for race two we will make some changes, but I actually did my fastest time on the second-to-last lap, so it means we’ve done everything well with setup and tyre pressure so far. It was a good race.”
Pleased with yet another strong performance for the Honda Civic FK7 TCR (#77), Münnichwas similarly complimentary of the pace shown by young Breukers – brother of two-time Rolex 24 at Daytona class winner, Rik – who is competing in only his second-ever TCR race this weekend at the 5.554km Yas Marina Circuit.
“To come to a complicated track like this and have pace like that, I’d say it was brilliant!”
Breukers was similarly pleased to claim his third podium in three TCR Middle East Series starts, although the Dutchman admits the race wasn’t without its issues.
“I had a good start, kept my position, but unfortunately couldn’t quite get past René into turn one,” said Breukers. “Then when the Code 60 came, I was in third gear and only going 58kph, whereas the car behind me was doing 60kph and getting really close to me! Then, into the last 10 minutes, my engine held back out of some corners, and I was worried it might fail, but it didn’t so I’m very happy with 2nd place.”
Behind the Red Camel-Jordans.nl CUPRA, Paul Dehadray took a hard-earned 3rd place in the J W BIRD Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR(#21) on the British squad’s TCR Middle East Series debut. Having started at the back of the grid, Dehadray recovered to put a decisive move on Zengő Motorsport’s Tamás Tenke (#8) in the closing stages and claim the final step on the podium.
“We were in Dubai a few weeks ago for the Hankook 24H DUBAI,” Dehadraytold CREVENTIC. “We didn’t finish unfortunately, but we did 19 or 20 hours and that was good grounding, especially because I haven’t been here before. We started at the back, overtook a couple of cars and ended up on the podium. So yeah, we’re happy with that performance.”
Things went less well for Zengő Motorsport, however. Coming into the event with two TCR Middle East Series podiums already under his belt from Dubai, team owner Zoltán Zengő suffered engine failure in the #10 CUPRA TCR heading into turn nine after just a few laps, causing the race’s only Code 60 caution period. The Hungarian outfit’s mechanics remain confident though that the necessary repairs can be made overnight.
Round four of the 2019 TCR Middle East Series is set to get underway at 09.55 hrs local time tomorrow at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Live timing of the races will be available on http://tcr-series.tv/. Further information about the TCR Middle East Series, including championship standings and race results, can be found at http://middleeast.tcr-series.com