Max Hart takes an early lead in TCR Asia at Sepang

Max Hart takes an early lead in TCR Asia at Sepang

05 May 2024

The TCR Asia championship returned into action after a one-year break with the Z.Speed Motorsport drivers dominating the two races at Sepang International Circuit. The Chinese team’s Hyundai Elantra N cars finished twice 1-2-3; Zhang Zhen Dong led his teammates Max Hart and Hwang Doyun in Race 1, while the trio reversed their positions in Race 2, with Hwang first ahead of Hart and Zhang. However, a penalty dropped Hwang to fourth and gifted Hart with the win.  

These results meant that Hart is the leader of the standings on 85 points, three clear of Zhang.

Race 1 – Hart had topped both Q1 and Q2, setting the pole with a lap of 2:24.500 and beating his teammate Zhang by 1.6 seconds. Hart led at the start from Zhang, while Hwang sprinted from P5 on the grid up to third. Zhang challenged the leader and muscled his way past at the beginning of lap 2, just before the race was put on hold for one lap, under full course yellow, to recover Yang Hao Jie’s Hyundai that had stopped on the track. At the restart, Hart retook the lead while Zhang was under pressure from Hwang. The battle for the lead resumed in lap 5, when Hart had to defend from Zhang and Hwang, with the three Z.Speed drivers entering abreast into T1 in lap 6. The fight raged on in the second half of the race and, after several attempts, Zhang repassed Hart in the penultimate lap to take victory, while the Irishman was able to hold on to P2 ahead of Hwang, with Umar Abdullah a distant fourth.

Race 2 – Jiang Nan, eighth in Qualifying, was on pole on the reversed grid and led at the start, but Hwang overtook him during the first lap while Benny Santoso in third place tried to keep at bay Zhang and Hart who both overtook him. Hart then passed Zhang and Jiang during lap 2, with Zhang moving into P3 soon afterwards. In lap 4, Jiang went wide onto the grass, allowing Abdullah into fourth, while Liu Qiren and Dypo Fitramadhan came together at T15 but were both able to continue. One lap later, Santoso passed Jiang for fifth, while up front Hwang had built comfortable gap of 3.8 seconds over Hart who was chased by Zhang. Unlike in Race 1, Hart was able to keep Zhang behind and finished second again behind Hwang, while Abdullah encored in fourth position. After the race, Hwang was handed a 30-second time penalty for jump-start that dropped him to fourth, behind Hart – the winner – Zhang and Abdullah.

TCR Asia will race again at Sepang in one month: June 8/9.


Sepang – Race 1

  1. Zhang Zhen Dong (Z.Speed Motorsport, Hyundai Elantra N), 12 laps
  2. Max Hart (Z.Speed Motorsport, Hyundai Elantra N), 1.767
  3. Hwang Doyun (Z.Speed Motorsport, Hyundai Elantra N), 2.270


Sepang – Race 2

  1. Max Hart (Z.Speed Motorsport, Hyundai Elantra N), 12 laps
  2. Zhang Zhen Dong (Z.Speed Motorsport, Hyundai Elantra N), 0.545
  3. Umar Abdullah (Delta Garage Racing, Honda Civic Type R FL5), 18.499


Championship points

  1. M. Hart, 85 pts; 2. Zhang ZD., 82; 3. U. Abdullah, 60.


Picture: TCR Asia

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