René Münnich has made TCR Middle East Series history at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi by becoming only the second driver in the series’ short history to seal four race victories in succession.
Coming into this afternoon’s race around the 5.554km Grand Prix circuit, the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsportteam owner had already secured three wins aboard the team’s Honda Civic FK7 TCR (#77). In taking his fourth series victory on the bounce, and from the back of the grid no less, Münnich replicates the record set by 2017 champion Josh Files during the series’ inaugural season.
“This time it was a reverse grid start, so it meant things were a bit closer at the start,” René explained to CREVENTIC. “I had to dive into turn one, and also I had to push hard during the early laps to build a gap and that just destroyed the tyres for the end. But in the end, I’d say our average pace was pretty good.
“We’ve done a lot of strategy work this weekend. You’re never going to leave a weekend like this a second quicker, but we’ve tried things we’ve never done before and it’s all worked really well for us.”
Following its strong start to this year’s title race, former FIA GT1 World Championship Team Champions and World Touring Car Cup race winners ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsportwill be back in action for the final round of the 2019 TCR Middle East Series season at the Dubai Autodromenext weekend. Collecting a fifth win though could prove tricky…
“You can see that Luc [Breukers] pace is growing,” René continued, “and we’re going back to a circuit we’ve already raced this year, so it may be more difficult to win there.”
Red Camel-Jordans.nl’s Luc Breukers meanwhile narrowly pipped J W BIRD Motorsport’s Kieran Griffin to take 2nd place overall, an engine problem that affected the CUPRA TCR (#101) yesterday materializing once again in the closing stages of race two, reducing the gap from 2nd to 3rd to just a few car lengths over the line.
“In Dubai, I had my first experience of the TCR car,” said Breukers post-race, “and I can already feel that the times are getting better and more consistent, so that’s good. But in the last 10 minutes, it was getting really close with Kieran [Griffin]. We had the same problem with the engine as yesterday, so my times were a lot slower. With a bit more time, he probably would have got past.”
Buoyed by a 3rd place finish for teammate Paul Dehadray at the Yas Marina Circuit yesterday in race one, Kieran Griffin collected J W BIRD Motorsport its second rostrum spot of the weekend aboard the Volkswagen Golf GTI (#21), and even set his personal fastest lap – a 2m 27.660s – on his final tour. The Briton was sceptical though that 2nd place was his for the immediate taking…
“I haven’t done a standing start race for maybe eight years now, so I lost a lot of time on the first lap and a half, but in the end I just got into a groove,” Kieran explained. “I was catching towards the end, but I probably needed another five laps before I could make a move. I at least kept [Luc] awake for the last couple of laps, and it was great fun. In the right hands, the Volkswagen can certainly do some damage around Yas Marina.”
Technical maladies once again struck Zengő Motorsport in Abu Dhabi. Following brake issues that derailed team owner Zoltán Zengő’s race in #10 CUPRA TCR yesterday, teammate Tamás Tenke suffered a broken bearing on lap four of race two, eliminating the sister #10 CUPRA TCR from the fight for the podium. A bitter blow for the Hungarian team, which started its UAE campaign with a double podium finish.
The final round of the 2019 TCR Middle East Series is scheduled to take place on 7-8 February at the Dubai Autodrome. Further information about the TCR Middle East Series, including championship standings and race results, can be found at http://middleeast.tcr-series.com