Craft-Bamboo Lukoil has maintained their lead in the drivers’ championship heading into the penultimate round of the TCR International Series season in Malaysia, and they will be fighting to continue their podium streak to ensure they are in the best position to take both titles in Macau. James Nash currently leads the charge with 229 points, Pepe Oriola is third with 213 points and Sergey Afanasyev is ninth with 133 points. With the top three drivers separated by only 16 points, Sepang should provide some of the most intense and exciting touring car action of the entire season. Interush will be joining Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil as a primary sponsor for Malaysia and all three SEAT Leons will sport an updated livery that features large Interush branding on the bonnet, roof and each front door in a contrasting black and white design.
James Nash’s consistency over the past few race weekends has allowed him to gain the edge over his TCR opponents and secure the drivers’ championship lead at this critical late stage of the season. Unlike Singapore, Nash will not have to carry any success ballast in Malaysia, which gives him the chance to utilize all the performance of his #54 SEAT Leon to fight for the win in both races. It is another new circuit for Nash and he will be pushing himself to learn the track as best as possible during the limited testing time on Thursday. Nash has been brilliant at adapting to the new circuits in Asia and he will be looking to further add to his nine podiums in Sepang and retain his lead in the process before heading into Macau to finish the 2016 season.
Pepe Oriola needs a strong performance in Malaysia to close the gap between him and his season rival, Stefano Comini. Oriola’s pace during qualifying and race one has allowed him to secure some top results, but some recent incidents in race two have prevented him from collecting the vital championship points he needs to take back the lead in the championship. Oriola knows that he needs a consistent weekend to stay in the running, so he will be making sure to stay out of trouble in the hopes of making it to the podium and up the driver standings’ ladder.
Sergey Afanasyev will be aiming for the podium once again in Malaysia and after his success at the circuit last year; he is looking like a top competitor. Afanasyev’s prior experience at Sepang should go a long way and give him the advantage over some of his newer challengers by allowing him to start pushing as soon as he hits the track. The Russian driver is determined to get back up on the podium and help add to Craft-Bamboo Lukoil’s advantage in the teams’ championship.
TCR International Series, Sepang Timetable GMT +8
Thursday 29th September
PRACTICE: 17:50 – 18:20
Friday 30th September
QUALIFYING: 08:40 – 09:10
RACE ONE (11 LAPS OR 25 MINS): 17:45 – 18:15
Saturday 1st of October
RACE TWO (11 LAPS OR 25 MINS): 15:30 – 16:00
James Nash, Driver #54
“After a tough weekend in Singapore I have decided to stay out in Asia and keep to the time zone. Also, it’s a good opportunity to recharge after a tough fight. Sepang is a new track to me so after this rest I will be ready to fight again. I can’t wait to be racing with Interush and the F1 as a support race.”
Pepe Oriola, Driver #74
“I really hope to get back into the lead in Malaysia with some more wins as the season is nearly over. I want to get myself into the best position for Macau to make sure I am ready to fight for the drivers’ title.”
Sergey Afanasyev, Driver #77
“Sepang will give us another chance to do everything right and improve on our performance from Singapore. The team is doing a fantastic job with the car and I cant wait to get to Malaysia to race with F1 once again and score some more points for the team and my drivers’ championship campaign.”
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“With the drivers’ championship so close and only Macau to go, it is imperative for us to have a strong and consistent weekend here in Sepang to stay ahead of the competition. The aim is have James and Pepe in the top two spots as we head into Macau for the final showdown. Thankfully, we don’t have to contend with any ballast this weekend, so I am hoping that all three of our cars can come away with some top results and represent our primary sponsor Interush on the podium.”
The pursuit of the 2016 TCR International Series title would not be possible without the support of LUKOIL, SEAT Sport, Interush, Gravity, Orangebus, Team Dynamics and Tunewear.