Backed by Cebuana Lhuillier, Daniel Miranda is now the new TCR Asian Drivers’ Champion of 2019. But it was an achievement he had to work hard for in a crazy Bangsaen Grand Prix where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Despite suffering a horrific crash in Race 1 and a clutch problem in Race 2, he fought on to take the title by a mere 5 points.
Still on his rookie year, the Eurasia Motorsport driver’s pace impressed even his own team on what was his very first outing around the tight, armco-lined 3.754 km street circuit. His #20 Hyundai i30 N TCR was 3rd fastest in Free Practice, only trailing the overall championship contenders Luca Engstler and Pepe Oriola into QTT1. He was only pipped in QTT2 by Deigo Moran and local hero Jakraphran Davee, who both have raced at Bangsaen before, to start from P5 on the grid.
This gave him and the team a big confidence boost ahead of the title showdown, that was until Miranda’s mixed bag of misfortunes began on Saturday afternoon.
His strong Qualifying run was thrown right out the window when he stalled at the start of Race 1 and ended up dead last. To his favor, several front runners ran into problems and allowed him to climb back to P6. The Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Driver eventually caught up to his closest title rival Kim Jin Soo whom he hounded for a spot on the podium. But both their races came to an abrupt end when Soo clipped the chicane and rebounded into Miranda’s path at 100 km/h.
While the #20 Hyundai i30 N TCR was badly damaged in the crash, even catching on fire at one point, thankfully Miranda escaped unharmed with his title hopes still intact.
This left Eurasia Motorsport with the monumental task of rebuilding the car for the season ender the next day. The team had to pull an all-nighter, which involved putting in a new engine, straightening out the chassis, and replacing every mangled panel, to get the #20 machine back on its wheels by Sunday morning.
Mathematically speaking, Miranda only needed to cross the finish line in Race 2 and the title was his. The final race of 2019, however, became a fight for survival as he was forced to nurse a slipping clutch for 12 excruciating laps. Tensions ran high in the Eurasia Motorsport garage while the team watched Miranda limp around the Bangsaen Street Circuit. But eventually, he pulled through and took the chequered flag, wrapping up his debut year with the TCR Asian Drivers’ Championship.
Daniel Miranda: “Not my best weekend at the Bangsaen Street Circuit since I had a big accident in Race 1 and clutch problems in Race 2. But I’m still very thankful that we were able to win the Asian Drivers’ championship this year and knowing that it’s just my first season in TCR Asia. Thank you to everyone at Eurasia Motorsport for fixing the car in time for Race 2 to allow me to win the title. Thank you to Cebuana Lhuillier, my family, and friends for the support and I’m looking forward to what’s in store for next year.”
Roland Hermoso, Driver Coach & Manager: “It was very nerve wracking weekend. Daniel only had a 15 point lead coming into Thailand. He had good pace on his first time at Bangsaen so we were confident he can do well. But we didn’t expect him to crash in Race 1 which left us scrambling to rebuild the car in time for Race 2. He then had clutch problems, so it was a big sigh of relief that he made it to the chequered flag and take the championship the hard way. Daniel impressed us all on his TCR season debut, including the WTCR and WTCC drivers he raced against in the series. He’s now a Hyundai Motorsports Customer Racing Junior Driver and I’m very happy for him.”
Jean Henri Lhuillier, Cebuana Lhuillier President and CEO: “I’m so elated and proud of what Daniel has achieved. I’ve never doubted his capabilities that’s why I supported him. I and Cebuana Lhuillier will continue to support in his pursuit for further greatness.”
[Photos courtesy of TCR Asia Series / Thailand Super Series]