It's mission accomplished for Daniel Miranda as the Filipino has now secured the TCR Asian Drivers' Championship in the final race of 2019. But it was an achievement he had to work hard for. Suffering a horrific crash in Race 1 and technical issues in Race 2, he endured one of his most difficult race weekends this season to take the title by a mere 5 points at the iconic Bangsaen Grand Prix.
Still on his rookie year, the Eurasia Motorsport driver impressed with his early pace noting that this was his very first time around the tight and challenging 3.754 km street circuit. His #20 Hyundai i30 N TCR was third fastest in Free Practice and trailed overall championship contenders Luca Engstler and Pepe Oriola into QTT1. He was only pipped in QTT2 by Deigo Moran and local driver Jakraphran Davee, both who have raced at Bangsaen before, to start from P5 on the grid.
This gave him and the team a confidence boost ahead of the title showdown before Miranda's mixed bag of misfortunes began on Saturday afternoon.
His strong run in Qualifying was all for naught when he bogged down at the start of Race 1 and ended up dead last. To his favor, several front runners ran into problems that allowed him to climb back to P6. The Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Driver then caught up to his closest title rival Kim Jin Soo whom he hounded for a spot on the podium. But with 9 laps to go, Soo clipped the chicane and rebounded straight into Miranda's path colliding over 100 km/h.
While his Hyundai i30 N TCR was battered and bruised in the crash, even catching on fire at one point, thankfully the Cebuana Lhuillier-backed driver escaped unharmed with his title hopes still hanging by a thread.
This left Eurasia Motorsport with the monumental task of rebuilding Miranda's car in time for the season ender. The team had to pull an all-nighter and miraculously got the #20 machine back on its wheels by Sunday morning.
Mathematically speaking, Miranda only needed to cross the finish line to claim the title in Race 2. 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. Eventually he pulled through to take the chequered flag and wrap up the 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.”