The ESET V4 Cup was represented well in the opening round of the new TCR Malaysia season in Sepang. Nico Gruber and a team Brutal Fish were amongst the best.
The 3rd weekend of January saw the beginning of the winter TCR Malaysia series. Its 2nd ever season began at Sepang circuit and some well-known names from the ESET V4 Cup did not miss it.
There were two interesting entries. First, the Brutal Fish team from Slovakia, that returned to Southeast Asia after its debut last year. Its car Honda Civic FK7 car was driven around the former F1 circuit by Daniel Lloyd. And then there was Nico Gruber, who finished in the 2nd place in the last season’s Formula Renault 2.0 category. It was a TCR debut for the Austrian driver, who got behind the wheel of Hyundai i30 N prepared by the last year’s champions – Engstler team.
Both free practice sessions on Friday already gave the ESET V4 Cup representants a chance for a good result. While Lloyd was 5th and 2nd in the first two sessions, Gruber set the 3rd and later 5th fastest times.
Gruber and Lloyd had a good run on Saturday as well. While the Austrian driver took the 2nd place in the final practice, with last year’s TCR Europe driver classified in the 3rd position.
But in qualifying, only Lloyd managed to stay close the podium positions after he finished in the 2nd place. Gruber had to settle for only the 7th position on the grid.
It was a similar story in the opening race of the weekend. While Lloyd managed to keep his defend his position on the start and went on to finish in the 2nd place in the race as well, taking a podium for the Brutal Fish team, Gruber’s bad luck meant that the Austrian had to retire from the race.
Luckily, it all was very different in the 2nd race of the day. The Top 8 from the qualifying started in reversed grid positions in the other Saturday’s race, which put him on the 2nd place on the grid. Gruber then took the opportunity, moved into the lead already in the 1st lap and did not allow anyone else to threaten him for the rest of the race. Lloyd then finished in the 2nd position, even despite starting from 7th, and he added another podium of the weekend.
While the British driver did not take a single win, he can still smile about the fact that he is currently leading the championship with 40 points. Nico Gruber is sitting in the 4th place in the standings with 25 points.
The 2nd round of the season is planned for February 14 to 16 in Sepang.
title photography: Nico Gruber official Fanpage/Facebook