2017 TCR International Series: Georgia

So, here we are. The Opening round of the 2017 TCR International Series is upon us and what a weekend of action it has been. Here’s the round up of all the news, qualifying and reports from the races as the first weekend of TCR action got underway…

TCR International Series unveils full season entry list

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For its third season, the TCR International Series has attracted twenty full season competitors, using seven different brands of cars. The entry list can be seen here.

Promoter Marcello Lotti commented: “The TCR International Series is growing further in its third season and we are very pleased with the arrival of new brands, like Audi and KIA, and new teams. We are also delighted to see that the decision to change the format of the European Trophy is resulting in some competitors already entering in the European events of the International Series.”

The full field will hit the track on the occasion of the third race meeting of the season, at Spa-Francorchamps with the FIA World Endurance Championship, while sixteen cars will took part at Rustavi International Motopark in Georgia and eighteen in the second event.

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“The deadline that was fixed to ship the cars to Georgia was very close to the Balance of Performance test, which made life difficult for the teams in the preparation of their programmes. As a result, some of the cars could not be delivered in time for the shipping,” explained Lotti.

These are the second cars of Comtoyou Racing, Leopard Racing and Icarus Motorsport, plus both the Zengő Motorsport’s KIA cee’d cars.

The field will grow even further thanks to the local drivers who will enter on a race-by-race basis and those competitors who are committing to take part in the International Series’ European events in order to qualify for the TCR European Trophy final at Adria International Raceway.

Stian Poulsen, Milovan Vesni ć and Jens-Reno Møller have already confirmed theirparticipation, but more are due to join, like Kevin Gleason and Grégoire Demoustier.

These will be confirmed in due time.

Super Taikyu launches a class for TCR cars Japan’s endurance series begins in Twin Ring Motegi

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The Super Taikyu Organization and WSC Ltd are pleased to announce that a new class for TCR cars has been included in the 2017 Super Taikyu Series, the Japan-based endurance championship that has established itself as one of the leading racing series in Asia.

Four TCR-spec cars – two Audi RS 3 LMS TCR and two Honda Civic Type-R TCR – have been entered in the new “ST-R” Class for the season opener, at Twin Ring Motegi on April 2. The class will finally be named ST-TCR as from the second round at Sugo and a Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR is also expected to join from the third round at Suzuka Circuit.

Harumi Kuwayama, secretary-general of the Super Taikyu Organization Executive Office, explained: “This agreement was made possible because both parties have the same aim of promoting and developing customer racing for Touring Cars. In the process of expanding the Super Taikyu Series, we are pleased to enter into such a partnership and we look forward to establishing an even better relationship and making our series popular on a global level.”

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TCR promoter Marcello Lotti, said: “The launch of a class for TCR cars in the Super Taikyu Series is another target we have achieved. After establishing three regional and national TCR series in Asia, China and Thailand, this agreement helps us to reach Japan with its important automotive market and its major car manufacturers. TCR-spec cars have already shown outstanding performance and reliability in different endurance series and we believe that, with their arrival in the Super Taikyu, they will surprise many Japanese fans as well.”

The Super Taikyu joins a list of endurance series and events that have already created a TCR class: the 24H Series, the 24H TCE Series, the ADAC 24H Nürburgring, the VLN Langstrecken Meisterschaft Nürburgring, the 1006Km of Palanga (Lithuania) and the 1000Km of P ärmu (Estonia).

The TCR International Series kicks off in Georgia with a historical event for local motorsport fans

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The third season of the TCR International Series kicks off this weekend at Rustavi International Motopark, in an event that makes history for Georgia’s motor sport.

In fact, TCR brings international racing to the Country for the first time ever, to the delight of the many local fans.

The event is supported by the governmental agency MIA Force the president of which, Archil Talakvadze said: “With this race meeting, Georgia claims its position on the world map of automobile racing. This will be a spectacular season opener for those who wish to attend exciting action on the track and discover the stunning landscapes, ancient culture and hospitality of Georgia at the same time.”

TCR promoter Marcello Lotti commented: “We are proud and honoured that the Government of Georgia has chosen TCR as the first international series ever to visit their beautiful country. I have personally discovered Georgia’s sights and the warm hospitality of its people when I was in Tbilisi last year, so I am sure that Rustavi will become one of the favourite destinations of our teams.”

Three titles at stake: Drivers’, Teams’ and Model of the Year

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The 2017 TCR International Series will award three titles at the end of the season.

Stefano Comini, Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing and the SEAT León TCR are the reigning champions in the Drivers’ and Team’s Championships and the Model of the Year award respectively.

The scoring system is the same for all three classifications: 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 points awarded to the best five classified in the Qualifying final results; 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 points awarded to the best ten classified in each race.

In the Team’s Championship and the Model of the Year award, the best two cars classified of each team and model score points.

The forces at play – round up of the opening event

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

Though twenty competitors have entered the International Series for the full season, only sixteen of them will took part at Rustavi International Motopark.

TCR promoter Marcello Lotti explained why: “The deadline that was fixed to ship the cars to Georgia was very close to the Balance of Performance test, which made life difficult for the teams in the preparation of their programmes. As a result, some of the cars could not be delivered in time for the shipping.”

These are the second cars of Comtoyou Racing, Leopard Racing and Icarus Motorsport, plus both the Zengő Motorsport’s KIA cee’d cars.

The full field will hit the track on the occasion of the third race meeting of the season, at Spa-Francorchamps with the FIA World Endurance Championship, while eighteen cars will take part in the second event at Bahrain International Circuit.

Comini in an Audi RS 3 LMS run by Comtoyou Racing

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

Double TCR International champion Stefano Comini will defend his title at the wheel of an Audi RS 3 LMS run by Comtoyou Racing.

“I received a number of offers, including the one from Comtoyou Racing. Team principal Jean-Michel Baert has hired François Verbist, whom I know well since we worked together in 2016 and this convinced me this was the best option. This project has been launched at the last-minute and we go to Georgia with very little preparation. I must say that trying to conquer a third crown in a row, with a third different car brand, is a very exciting challenge!” said Comini.

Leopard Racing confirmed Jean-Karl Vernay

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

Following its successful maiden season in 2016, Leopard Racing Team confirmed its commitment with the aim to defend its title in the Drivers’ Championship.

The team continues to work together with WRT that provides its experienced and professional structure and runs Volkswagen Golf GTi cars once again.

Jean-Karl Vernay, who was classified third in the 2016 TCR International Series has been confirmed at the wheel of the team’s first car: “I am very pleased to race in the series once again and with the same team. This is a nice change for me, because it’s the first time in that I’m able to take part in the same championship in two consecutive seasons. It is definitely a good thing, because it will make my life easier and will help me to be competitive straight away.”

A dream-trio for Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

Craft-Bamboo Racing continues its long-standing partnership with Lukoil and SEAT Sport after clinching the teams’ title in 2016 and narrowly missing out the drivers’ title twice in 2015 and 2016.

The team fields an impressive trio of Touring Car specialists: Hugo Valente, James Nash and Pepe Oriola.

New to the team, Valente said: “I’m very excited for this new challenge. For me it was important to get back to the front end of the field, as I wanted to be able to fight for podiums and victory at every event. I’ve seen the way Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing works, and to me it’s possibly the best opportunity that I’ve been given in the past couple of years.”

A runner up in last year’s Drivers’ Championship, Nash commented: “2016 was a great season and despite making many errors we still won the teams’ title and finished second in the drivers’. Obviously I would like to go one better this year and staying in the same environment gives me that opportunity.”

Oriola, vice-champion in 2015, added: “It’s my third year with the team and it feels like a real family. With my two teammates I hope we can win the teams’ championship and finally win the drivers title too!”

WestCoast Racing and Morbidelli switched to VW

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WestCoast Racing will campaign two Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR cars for the Italian pairing of Gianni Morbidelli and the 16-year old Giacomo Altoè.

The Swedish team has been a successful front-runner in the series since its inception in 2015 taking 14 race wins in the first two seasons with Honda Civic cars.

Morbidelli is in his third season with the team: “I’m really happy and excited to stay with WestCoast Racing. For this year, we have big expectations and the pressure that comes with that. We’re running a new car and we all have to get up to speed as soon as possible.  I’m glad to be back, after two seasons I know the potential and the guys. Overall I’m looking forward to it!”

Michelisz launched M1RA for title assault

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Hungarian motorsport hero Norbert Michelisz has launched his own team M1RA that runs a pair of Honda Civic TCR cars for Attila Tassi and Roberto Colciago.

Despite his young age (17) Tassi has proved his skill in last year’s TCR International Series in which he was classified 11th and took a deserved podium finish in Sochi, while the experienced Colciago has amassed a sizeable number of championship titles and now, aged 48, he is the reigning TCR Italy champion and was a race winner in TCR International in Malaysia last year.

Michelisz explained: “For many years I have had ambitions of creating my own race team, but had always assumed that this would come at the end of my driving career. However, at the end of 2016, all the ingredients were in place to create M1RA. The right people, the right car and the right programme in TCR International, were all available, so this was the ideal time. We evaluated a number of different series, but for now, TCR International provided the best fit for our aims and objectives. We aim to win the championship. I know that sounds very ambitious for our first season, but I genuinely think that we have all the ingredients necessary to mount a serious challenge.”

Colciago said: “When I was offered the programme in the 2016 TCR Italy series, I was happy to accept. I just wanted to do well, but then things evolved quite quickly and unexpectedly. Here I am, facing my return to an international top-level series, with plenty of motivation. It is odd that I drive for a team that belongs to another driver, but strangest feeling is to have a teammate (Tassi) who is the same age as my daughter!”

Corthals and Homola in DG Sport’s Opel Astra cars

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DG Sport Compétition announced Pierre-Yves Corthals and Mat’o Homola as the drivers of the two Opel Astra TCR cars entered for its maiden season in the International Series.

The 22-year old Homola has established himself as one of the most competitive young Touring Car drivers; last year he was one of the title contenders in the TCR International Series, claiming one race win and ranking 5th in the Drivers’ Championship. “I’m excited to race again in this series and I’m pleased to be part of DG Sport, an experienced team that claimed the TCR European Trophy in 2016. I believe there is a huge potential in the combination between the team and the new Opel Astra TCR”

Corthals has been confirmed by the team after last year’s successful campaign that saw ‘Pilou’ winning the TCR European Trophy and finishing runner-up in the TCR Benelux. The Belgian driver has also worked together with the Opel Motorsport technicians to develop the 2017 version of the Astra. He said: “I am very pleased to take part in the International Series. Because I know well the potential of the car, I think that we have all the cards to be able to compete for the top positions. The fact that nobody knows the Rustavi track and that we have a very professional team makes it an ideal context to start the season.”

Kajaia and Borković teammates in Alfa Romeo cars

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Georgia’s Davit Kajaia and Serbia’s Dušan Borković team up at the wheel of Alfa Romeo Giulietta cars run by the new Georgia-based GE-Force team.

Kajaia has already had the opportunity to drive the Romeo Ferraris-built Giulietta TCR quite recently in the TCR Middle East series, showing promising performance of the Italian car.

Michela Cerruti, who developed the Giulietta for the Italian engineering company during the past season, explained: “In the last two years we have been working hard to bring Alfa Romeo back to its success in motorsport. Today we are very excited and proud, because the Georgian Government and MIA Force have decided to invest in our product and support Kajaia. On top of this, the choice of calling Borković to drive the second car is another guarantee to achieve important results during the season.” 

Borković added: “GE-Force and Romeo Ferraris have set a plan that was really trustworthy and appealing to me. They have long-term ambitions that make me confident. I feel a great responsibility and a challenge, as we aim for improving and upgrading the car throughout the upcoming season.“

The team has also entered a third car for the two first events of the season.

The first American team in TCR: Icarus Motorsports

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Icarus Motorsports – the first American team to join TCR – entered the International Series with two SEAT León TCR cars.

Duncan Ende, co-founder of the team, is also the first driver: “We started the team specifically for the TCR International Series and we are thrilled to be joining the championship with SEAT Sport. The TCR formula is enjoying tremendous success worldwide and Touring Cars were one of my first loves when I discovered racing, so I’m chomping at the bit to get out there myself after ten years racing GTs and prototypes!”

Ferenc Ficza starts the season with Zele Racing

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Hungarian youngster Ferenc Ficza has been the first driver signed by Zeng ő Motorsport to race one of the two STARD-built KIA cee’d TCR cars that will hit the track on the occasion of the third event of the season at Spa-Francorchamps.

In order not to miss the opportunity to score some valuable points in the first two events of the season, Ficza will be driving a SEAT León TCR run by Zele Racing at Rustavi and Bahrain.

Georgia’s hero Davit Kajaia claims pole position in the Romeo Ferraris-built the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

Davit Kajaia claimed his and the Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s first pole position in the TCR International Series with an impressive performance in Q2 at Rustavi. The local hero posted a lap time of 1:40.693, to the joy of Georgia’s motorsport fans who are expected to flock to the track tomorrow to cheer for him.

Earlier today, Kajaia proved to be among the fastest drivers, fighting with Hungarian youngsters Attila Tassi and Ferenc Ficza for the top positions in the two Practice sessions.

In Qualifying he made a flawless job, advancing beyond Q1 with the third fastest lap behind the pair of M1RA Honda Civic cars of Roberto Colciago and Tassi. Then, Kajaia annihilated the field in Q2, being the only driver to complete a lap under 1:41.00

Tassi and Ficza qualified in second and third, with Jean-Karl Vernay fourth in the Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi. Colciago will share the third row of the grid for Race 1 with reigning champion Stefano Comini, who was sixth in the Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS.

Eventually, five different brands of car manufacturer were represented in the top six positions.

Giacomo Altoè qualified his WestCoast Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi in tenth position and so will start Race 2 from pole thanks to the reverse grid, with Pepe Oriola (Lukoil Craft-Bamboo SEAT León) alongside him.

The first race will start tomorrow at 13:35 local time, with second one following at 15:35.

Qualifying 1: M1RA duo leads the field

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

The M1RA Honda Civic Type-R cars of Colciago and Tassi led the field in Q1, after an exciting escalation of improving lap times that lasted throughout the twenty minutes.

Kajaia opened the hostilities with provisional fastest laps of 1:42.731 and 1:42.252; the Georgian then had a further improvement (1:42.096) disallowed for trespassing track limits. The same penalty hit several other drivers, namely Comini (three times), Oriola, Ende and Tassi.

Colciago jumped to the top of the list a first time with a lap of 1:42.145, however he was soon demoted to second by Ficza who completed two consecutive fastest laps: 1:42.137 and 1:42.080.

With only two minutes left Colciago responded and broke the 1:42.00 barrier, clocking an impressive 1:41.777. In the dying seconds, Tassi (1:41.900) and Kajaia (1:41.968) recovered second and third places respectively.

Also on his last lap, Altoè improved from 12th to 7th, while the Lukoil Craft-Bamboo trio of Oriola, Nash and Valente filled the last three positions (10th to 12th) that gave them access to Q2. Borković was the first driver to miss the cut, as he was sidelined by a steering rack failure.
The following drivers advanced to Q2: Colciago, Tassi, Kajaia, Ficza, Vernay, Homola, Altoè, Morbidelli, Comini, Oriola, Nash and Valente

Qualifying 2: Kajaia beats Tassi and Ficza

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

On his first quick lap, Oriola clocked a 1:42.150 that provisionally placed him on top of the time sheet, but the Spaniard was soon demoted by the Hungarian duo of Tassi (1:41.286) and Ficza (1:41.294).

With three minutes to go, Kajaia stopped the clock at 1:40.693, a new lap record for the TCR cars at Rustavi International Motorpark, which meant pole position for the delighted Alfa Romeo driver. Just before the end, Vernay and Colciago advanced to fourth and fifth.

Once again, several drivers – Nash, Valente and Altoè – had lap times disallowed for infringing track limits, while Morbidelli went off and beached his car onto the gravel trap at Turn 4.

What the fastest drivers said after Qualifying

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

Davit Kajaia (pole positionI: “It’s an amazing feeling to be on pole and I am obviously very proud to achieve my first pole here at home, in front of my fans and all the people who support me. I really want to thank everybody in the team for their great work. The car seemed to fly and the changes we made after free Practice 2 worked beautifully. I did not expect such a gap, although I must say that I really put all my heart into my fast lap.”

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Attila Tassi (second fastest): “I am obviously happy of this second position, everything went very well and honestly, I didn’t expect to be in first row, nor faster than my experienced teammate Colciago.”

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Ferenc Ficza (third fastest): “It has been an amazing start of the weekend and I am both surprised and happy about my performances. I was already happy being here and part of the TCR, so the good results are a bonus. In Q1, I did a couple of small mistakes, but still, third fastest is great. And it’s nice to have two Hungarians in the top three.”

More quotes after the Qualifying session

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Michela Cerruti, GE-Force / Romeo Ferraris: “I can’t describe what this pole means for the whole team, after all the hard work we have put on this project. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing on the screens and are, of course, very happy. We realized during the TCR Middle East Series that we were heading upwards, after all the development work done during the winter, but this exceeded any expectation. To clinch the pole here in Georgia, the home of Davit and our sponsors, adds an emotional spin. It is so important for our Georgian partners and the entire country… Davit has been simply fantastic. It is true that he knows the track inside out, but still, he did a terrific job and gave everything he had, despite all the pressure on his shoulders. I must admit he is impressing me in the way he approaches things: he works a lot, listens and he’s able to improve all the time.”

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Jean-Karl Vernay (4th fastest): “We have progressed well and I am happy with the car. In Q2, it turned out that I had a broken bearing, which probably cost me a couple of tenths, but even without it, I don’t think I could have done better than third. The Alfa seemed unreachable…”

Mat’o Homola (12th fastest): “We progressed throughout the session and that was promising, it means we are improving step by step. Unfortunately, Q2 wasn’t that good, the changes we made were not effective. We still improved something, but less than our competitors. We need to work more on the set-up, but it’s a good start, if we keep in mind that this is my first real time with the Opel.”

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Gianni Morbidelli (7th fastest): “I am very happy with the work done, we are progressing and going in the right direction. Given that this is our first time with the Golf, being only one tenth behind Vernay, who is our reference, is very positive. For sure, I could not have gone faster today; I was at the limit and went even beyond once, when I lost the car in a breaking point and finished in the gravel.”

Giacomo Altoè (10th fastest): “It was a good session and I am happy with the result, although I think we can and we have to improve the set-up. One of my lap times was canceled because of track limits, but luckily, it wasn’t my best time. Starting in pole for Race 2 is nice but also a big responsibility.”

Georgian fans delighted by first TCR experience as local hero Kajaia and Oriola share victories

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

The third season of the TCR International Series couldn’t have started in a more exciting way, as the first-ever visit by the series to Georgia’s Rustavi International Motorpark resulted in two breathtaking races that delighted the thousands of fans that crowded the grandstand to full capacity.

The icing on the cake for them was local hero Davit Kajaia’s victory in the first race at the conclusion of a thrilling four-way fight that involved cars of four different brands. The Georgian policeman showed speed and a cool head in keeping his pursuers at bay and giving the first victory to the Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

The second race victory went to Pepe Oriola and his Lukoil Craft-Bamboo SEAT León, which meant that for the third consecutive year the young Spaniard opened the season with a victory and so established himself as a candidate for the title fight once again.

The event also offered the young Hungarian duo of Attila Tassi and Ferenc Ficza reasons to be satisfied – each claimed one second place – together with Honda, Audi and Volkswagen (all of whom obtained podium positions).

The reigning champion Stefano Comini experienced very mixed fortunes on his first appearance at the wheel of the Audi RS 3 LMS. He first made up for a disappointed Qualifying by fighting for a podium place in Race 1, but then was forced to retire in Race 2 thanks to the consequences of a collision with his former teammate, which occurred after the end of the first race.

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Although Opel struggled to stay on the pace of the faster cars and lost Mat’o Homola at the start of Race 2, the brand was eventually rewarded by its first TCR International points scored by Pierre-Yves Corthals.

Race 1 – Kajaia and Alfa Romeo win a breathtaking first race 

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

The 2017 TCR International Series kicked off with a breathtaking wet race at Rustavi International Motorpark.

Georgia’s local hero Davit Kajaia and his Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta run by the GE-Force team claimed a fantastic victory after a close fight that involved five drivers representing four different brands of car manufacturers.

After sprinting from pole position, Kajaia pushed to the limit and created a gap in the first half of the race, while Attila Tassi (M1RA Honda Civic Type-R), Ferenc Ficza (Zele Racing SEAT León) and Stefano Comini (Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS) where fighting behind him.

Once Ficza managed to overtake Tassi and close the gap, Kajaia was able to keep him at bay, while Comini and Roberto Colciago (M1RA Honda Civic Type-R) were also chasing the leading pair.

Eventually the crowd roared when Kajaia crossed the finish line with a slim margin ahead of Ficza, while Comini kept third place despite Colciago’s last effort.

RACE ONE KEY FACTS

Grid: the track is still wet after it rained the whole morning

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

Start:  Kajaia takes the best start, from Tassi, Ficza and Colciago

Lap 1: Comini and Vernay make contact, Comini moves up to fifth; Borković and Valente clash

Lap 2: Comini overtakes Colciago for fourth

Lap 3: Borković overtakes Morbidelli for ninth

Lap 4: Tassi is under pressure from Ficza and Comini

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

Lap 5: Homola overtakes Valente for 11th

Lap 6: Ficza overtakes Tassi for second

Lap 7: Comini overtakes Tassi for third; Valente pits for repairs

Lap 9: Colciago overtakes Tassi for fourth

Lap 10: Ficza closes in on Kajaia

Lap 11: Kajaia leads shrinks to four tenths

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

Lap 12: Kajaia, Ficza, Comini and Colciago are nose to tail

Lap 13: The first four are covered by less than one second

Lap 14: Ficza knocks on Kajaia bumper, but the leader maintain the position

Lap 15: Colciago dives inside Comini at Turn 1, but the reigning champion maintains second place as Kajaia wins from Ficza, Comini and Tassi

Quotes from the Race 1 podium finishers

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Davit Kajaia (winner): “I am more than happy, it is so great to win my first race here at home, I have no words… I just want to thank my country for all the support, the team that did a fantastic job and TCR for bringing such a great show to Georgia. The race was very tough. My start was good and I could build some gap, but as from lap 6, my front tyres started to suffer and then I had to fight to keep Ficza at bay.”

Ferenc Ficza (second): “I am very happy was second, it’s a good result. My start wasn’t that great, then I could pass Tassi, but Comini’s car was getting larger and larger in my mirrors. At the same time, we were reducing the gap to Kajaia and got really close but there was no way to pass him.”

Stefano Comini (third): “First of all, I want to congratulate Davit for his fabulous win, he did a superb job. I am very happy for all Georgians, who have welcomed us so warmly. My race was good, to finish on the podium for our first race as a team and with the Audi is an excellent result. I had a contact with Jean-Karl Vernay on the first lap; I had the inside line and he hit me. He went sideways and I actually pushed him a bit to get his car straight again. After crossing the line, he hit me on purpose breaking my radiator, which was so silly…”

Race 2 – Oriola keeps up impressive opening event record

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

Pepe Oriola confirmed his winning record in the opening event of the TCR International Series; after being victorious at Sepang in 2015 and Bahrain in 2016, the Catalan won the second race in Georgia.

Oriola beat his Lukoil Craft-Bamboo teammate Hugo Valente, while Attila Tassi claimed third position ahead of Jean-Karl Vernay. While the two SEAT León cars of Oriola and Valente pulled away when the race resumed after the safety car, there was a red-hot fight for the fifth position. Eventually Dušan Borković managed to resist the pressure from the likes of Ferenc Ficza, James Nash and Roberto Colciago, while Pierre-Yves Corthals finished tenth and became the first Opel driver to score championship points.

Following the race 2, the Stewards reviewed video evidence of two incidents and handed 30-second time penalties to Valente (who dropped from second to ninth) and Colciago (who dropped from sixth to 12th) for overtaking under yellow flags.

RACE TWO KEY FACTS

Grid: the track is drying, all cars are on slicks; Comini lines up at the end of the pit lane

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

Start: Altoè sprints ahead of Oriola and Valente

Lap 1: Abkhazava hits Homola at Turn 1, the Slovak’s Opel spins and stalls; there is battle for the leading positions: Oriola and Valente overtake Altoè who drops to third ahead of Tassi, Vernay and Morbidelli

Lap 2: the safety car is deployed to recover Homola’s car

Lap 4: the race resumes

Lap 5: Tassi overtakes Altoè for third; Borković overtakes Morbidelli for fifth; Ficza overtakes Kajaia for ninth

Lap 6: Comini pits and retires

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Lap 7: Nash overtakes Morbidelli for sixth

Lap 8: Colciago overtakes Morbidelli for seventh

Lap 9: Oriola pulls away from Valente

Lap 10: Nash overtakes Borković for fifth

Lap 11: Colciago and Nash go wide and Borković retakes fifth; Ficza overtakes Nash for sixth

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Lap 13: Borković, Ficza, Nash, Colciago, Morbidelli and Nash have a close battle

Lap 14: Ficza makes a mistake and drops behind Nash and Colciago

Lap 15: Ficza and Colciago make contact, Ficza stops and retires

Lap 16: Kajaia overtakes Morbidelli for eighth

Lap 17: Oriola wins from Valente, Tassi and Vernay; Borković keeps fifth ahead of Colciago who overtakes Nash for sixth; Corthals claims the last point

Quotes from the Race 2 podium finishers

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

Pepe Oriola (winner): “It’s the third year in a row that I manage to win a race in the opening event of the TCR International Series, it seems that I come always strong out of the winter… It’s really nice to win a race after the difficult event we had, with a bad qualifying and lots of trouble. My start wasn’t great, because I was on a line still humid and my wheels got spinning, but I could keep Hugo behind, then I pushed hard to try to build some advantage. It wasn’t easy because it was not very clear if it was raining or not and as the race leader you always risk to be caught by surprise first…”

Hugo Valente (second): “It’s great for the team to end a difficult weekend with a 1-2. It’s also a good result for me for a first outing with a new team and a new car. At the start, I got side-by-side with Pepe, we even touched slightly, and after that my steering wasn’t that precise on left turns. I coul never really attack Pepe, but the objective was to score heavy points.”

Attila Tassi (third): “I am happy with the podium and with my performances throughout the weekend. I could not hope on such a weekend before it started, especially given that I was driving the Honda for the first time. In Race 2, Pepe and Hugo were far away in front, but I had a good fight with Vernay and could defend third.”

2017-2017 Rustavi Race 1---21 Giacomo Altoe_113

2017 TCR International Series – calendar

2 April – Rustavi International Motopark, Georgia

16 April – Bahrain International Circuit (F1 event)

6 May – Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (WEC event)

14 May – Autodromo di Monza, Italy (ELMS event)

11 June – Salzburgring, Austria

2 July – Hungaroring, Budapest (GT Open event)

9 July – Motorsport Arena Oschersleben, Germany (with ADAC TCR Germany)

3 September – Chang International Circuit, Buriram (with TCR Thailand)

8 October – Zhejiang International Circuit, China (with TCR China)

26 November – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi (F1 event)

After this resounding start, the series will resume over the Easter weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit in the frame of the Formula One Grand Prix.

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as the members of the TCR Talk Facebook Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from the series.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

 

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