TCR International Series returns to Bahrain for F1 Grand Prix
The second race meeting of the TCR International Series took place this weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit.
For the second consecutive year the series runs at Sakhir as a support event to the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.
(Although we know which racing series happened to be more exciting…)
(Hint: It wasn’t F1…)
In 2016 the Lukoil Craft-Bamboo team dominated the event, with Sergey Afanasyev claiming pole position and Pepe Oriola scoring a double victory.
On Saturday night in the first race, Oriola and his SEAT León resisted a superb recovery from Gianni Morbidelli in the WestCoast Racing Honda Civic, while Oriola’s teammates James Nash and Afanasyev finished in third and fourth positions.
Morbidelli’s teammates Kevin Gleason and Aku Pellinen led the second race in its early stages, but Oriola and Nash recovered quickly after starting tenth and ninth on the reverse grid. With less than two laps to go, both Oriola and Nash overtook Gleason and gave a 1-2 finish to Lukoil Craft-Bamboo. The fight for third resulted in a collision between WestCoast Racing’s Gleason and Morbidelli, the former stopped, the latter dropped back and their teammate Pellinen inherited the final place on the podium.
TCR competitors hit the track for the first time on Friday for two twenty-minute Free Practice sessions. On Saturday they took part in a thirty-minute Qualifying session; all drivers will run during Q1 and the fastest twelve will be allowed to participate in Q2.
The first TCR International Series race took place on Saturday afternoon, just before the F1 Qualifying. The second race took place on Sunday in the early afternoon as an appetizer to the F1 GP.
Success ballast for Kajaia, Tassi and Oriola
The Success Ballast system will be applied for the first time during the current season, on the occasion of the second race meeting at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Following the results achieved in the season’s opener at Rustavi International Motorpark in Georgia, GE-Force’s Davit Kajaia, M1RA’s Attila Tassi and Lukoil Craft-Bamboo’s Pepe Oriola will carry ballast on their cars.
Race 1 winner and current points leader Kajaia will be given the maximum 30-kilo ballast; this is the first time the Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR will be laden by extra weight. In fact, the Italian car’s running weight will be 1295 kilograms (1285kg minimum weight, plus 30kg of Success Ballast, minus 20kg of Balance of Performance adjustment).
A 20-kilo ballast will be imposed on Tassi’s Honda Civic Type-R TCR, the second-best scoring car in Rustavi; its running weight will be 1335kg (1285 + 20 SB + 30 BoP), while Race 2 winner Oriola’s SEAT León TCR will carry 10 kilos of ballast for a running weight of 1325kg (1285 + 10 + 30).
Michela Cerruti joins GE-Force for the Bahrain event
After spending the 2016 season developing the Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR, Michela Cerruti will once again sit in the Italian car for the second event of the 2017 TCR International Series.
At Bahrain International Circuit, in the frame of the Formula One Grand Prix, Cerruti will join Davit Kajaia and Du šan Borković, taking the wheel of GE-Force’s third car that was driven by Shota Abkhazava during the series’ opener in Georgia.
While Kajaia was on his way to claiming the Guilietta TCR’s maiden win in Rustavi’s Race 1, Michela Cerruti was standing on the pit wall, biting her nails.
“I felt immense joy, even though I was not driving. It has been very emotional to celebrate a victory in a different role. The Giulietta is my baby; I played a part in its birth and growth, and I drove it when this kind of result was definitely beyond our hopes,” said the Italian lady who was the first driver to reach the podium with the car, finishing second in the TCR Middle East series at Dubai in January; a result that was matched by Kajaia one month later in Abu Dhabi.
“After my podium in Dubai and the outstanding performance of Davit and Du šan in Georgia, I can’t wait to be at the wheel myself once again although, for the time being, we are considering it as a one-off appearance. But I will try and do my best to help the team to score more points in the championship,” Michela concluded.
The forces at play – a round up after the opening event
The 2017 TCR International Series successfully got under way at Rustavi International Motorpark in what was the first international motorsport event ever hosted by Georgia.
Local fans responded with enthusiasm, flocking to the track in their thousands and crowding the grandstand to full capacity in spite of pouring rain.
They were rewarded by Davit Kajaia’s triumph in a thrilling first race that offered a five-way fight between the Georgian’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Ferenc Ficza’s SEAT León, Stefano Comini’s Audi RS3 LMS and the Honda Civic Type-R cars of Attila Tassi and Roberto Colciago.
In the second race, Pepe Oriola continued his tradition of winning during the season’s opening event. The Spaniard led home his teammate Hugo Valente who was later demoted for overtaking under yellow flags, which promoted Tassi and Jean-Karl Vernay to second and third respectively.
Thanks to a sixth place in Race 2, Kajaia emerged as the championship leader with a margin of six points ahead of Tassi; Oriola lies third, one further point adrift.
GE-Force: Kajaia wins and Borković scores
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. He then was able to control the race from the front, keeping his competitors at bay. 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-gasp effort.
“It was so great to win my first race at home! The race was very tough. My start was good and I could build a gap, but as from lap 6, my front tyres started to suffer and then I had to fight to keep Ficza at bay,” Kajaia said.
His teammate Dušan Borković made up for a disappointing Qualifying performance by pocketing an encouraging fifth place in Race 2 that became fourth after Valente’s penalty.
The Serbian commented: “I was not satisfied with my speed, but I used my skills to recover positions in both races. It was good to score points twice after a disappointing qualifying.”
Lukoil Craft-Bamboo: Oriola does it again!
For the third consecutive year Pepe Oriola opened the season with a victory and so established himself as a candidate for the title fight once again. The young Spaniard and his SEAT León dominated the second race in Rustavi after snatching the lead from Giacomo Altoè during the first lap. “It was 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 that was still humid and my wheels were spinning but I could keep Hugo behind, then I pushed hard to try to build an advantage,” Oriola said.
His two teammates were less lucky. Hugo Valente finished the race in second position, but was later demoted to ninth by a 30-second time penalty for overtaking under yellow flags. He argued: “It was a decision that I didn’t fully understand. The two drivers in front overtook each other in the chicane, they had a bad exit and I was able to gain a position. I got a penalty for that. It was a mystery to me.”
Last year’s championship runner-up James Nash struggled to be on the pace. Out of the points in Race 1, he inherited fifth in Race 2 after penalties for Valente and Colciago. He explained: “It was a tough weekend for me. In Race 1 I did what I could starting from 11th. In the second I was able to utilize the car’s performance to a much greater degree and gain some points.”
M1RA: Tassi and Colciago fight for top places
The Honda Civic Type-R cars run by M1RA were fighting for the top positions in Georgia.
Despite their performance, Attila Tassi and Roberto Colciago were left with regrets as both had the possibility to achieve better results.
Being part of the leading quintet in Race 1, they missed the podium by inches: Colciago fourth and Tassi fifth. In Race 2 they crossed the line third and sixth respectively, but had different fortunes, as Tassi was promoted to second by Valente’s penalty, while Colciago dropped out of the points as he received a similar penalty himself.
Tassi said: “I was happy with the podium and my performance. I could not hope on such results before the weekend started, considering that I was driving the Honda for the first time.”
Zele Racing: Ficza impresses with his speed
Thanks to a last-minute deal, Ferenc Ficza was signed by Zele Racing to drive the Austrian team’s SEAT León for the first two race meetings. From Spa onwards Ficza will switch to Zeng ő Motorsport to race one of the two new STARD-built KIA cee’d cars.
In Rustavi the Hungarian youngster did not waste the opportunity to shine and was arguably the most impressive driver over the Georgian weekend, which granted him the first TCR Fan Award of the season.
Throughout the first race he chased Kajaia and finished runner-up to the Georgian by a mere three tenths. He was well on his way to also finish the second race in the points, but he was eliminated after contact with Colciago.
“I was very happy with second in Race 1, it was 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,” he said.
Comtoyou Racing: encouraging results for Comini
Comtoyou Racing and Stefano Comini arrived in Rustavi without having completed a single lap in their brand new Audi RS 3 LMS. This resulted in them struggling to find the pace in Practice and Qualifying.
However, when it went down to the races, the double TCR champion proved that whoever wants to be next to sit on the International Series throne cannot count him out.
In Race 1 the Swiss claimed a third position that was totally unexpected after the disappointing pace he had shown earlier. Unfortunately for him, the consequences of contact with Vernay after the end of the first race forced him to retire in the second.
“To finish on the podium in our first race as a team and with the Audi was an excellent result.” Comini declared.
Leopard Racing: Vernay inherits a podium result
While Leopard Racing still has to name the second driver who will join the championship from Spa, Jean-Karl Vernay flew the team’s colours in his Volkswagen Golf GTi.
In the first race at Rustavi, the French driver came off the worst following a clash with Comini and found himself heading the group that was chasing the five leaders. Eventually he finished in sixth position. In the second race, he trailed Valente and Tassi, taking the chequered flag in fourth position that became third, courtesy of Valente’s penalty.
He commented: “We scored twenty-five points, that was not bad to begin. Better than last year! It was a great job from the whole team, however I could not chase the Honda, as it has better torque when coming out of the turns.”
WestCoast Racing: points for Morbidelli and Altoè
WestCoast Racing’s Italian pairing of the experienced Gianni Morbidelli and the 16-year old Giacomo Altoè scored points in both races at the wheel of their Volkswagen Golf GTi cars. It was Morbidelli’s maiden appearance in the Golf, and Altoe’s second following the TCR Middle East finale in Bahrain.
“It was a reasonable result for us as we knew we would be somewhat on the back foot in these early races of the season with the new cars,” said Team Manager James Nixon. “We didn’t have the raw pace in the car in race conditions, that is clear, but Gianni held on for points in both races while Giacomo enjoyed the chance to start from pole position on the reverse grid for Race 2 and led for half-a-lap on his debut, so that’s a huge positive.”
Morbidelli was classified tenth and seventh in the races, while Altoè was eighth and tenth.
DG Sport Compétition: Homola and Corthals are confident
In its debut in the TCR International Series, DG Sport Compétition managed to score points in the Teams’ Championship.
After finishing 11th and 12th in Race 1, Mat’o Homola and Pierre-Yves Corthals were aiming for better results in the second race. Homola’s hopes were soon crushed when his Opel Astra was hit by Shota Abkhazava’s Alfa Romeo at Turn 1 and retired; Corthals fought for a points-scoring position and crossed the line tenth before being promoted to eighth after the penalties.
Homola said: “It was my first drive in the Astra and I’m pretty confident about the future, because it has huge potential. I’m also pleased with DG Sport Compétition, as they are professional and motivated. We worked well in the weekend and progressed during each session. Though I feel that for us this BoP is disadvantageous.”
Corthals echoed: “We really worked hard all weekend. I gave my all without ever really having the feeling of being able to battle it out with the others on an equal footing, and that’s rather frustrating.”
Icarus Motorsports: a difficult debut for Duncan Ende
Icarus Motorsports – the first American team to join TCR – and its driver Duncan Ende endured a difficult maiden weekend in the TCR International Series.
At the wheel of his SEAT León – the only car in the field still fitted with a DSG gearbox – Ende finished the two races in 14th and 11th positions.
He was not that surprised and said: “ Due to some delays with suppliers, we didn’t have the chance to test before the season. So we took the event in Rustavi as just a learning weekend. I had never even driven a front-wheel drive car before the Friday test…”
Qualifying: Homola was fastest, but Corthals inherited pole
The DG Sport Compétition pairing of Mat’o Homola and Pierre-Yves Corthals placed the Opel Astra cars on top of the TCR International Series timesheets for the first time. The Belgian beat his Slovak teammate in Q1, but eventually it was Homola who emerged as the fastest in Q2, beating Corthals by nearly four tenths of a second.
However, Homola could not fully benefit from his exploits as he was demoted to the back of the grid for Race 1 following an engine change that occurred after yesterday’s first Practice.
Corthals therefore inherited pole position with Hugo Valente (Lukoil Craft-Bamboo SEAT León) completing the front row.
Roberto Colciago (M1RA Honda Civic Type-R) started from the third spot alongside Davit Kajaia (GE-Force Alfa Romeo Giulietta) who managed to claim fourth position despite the 30-kilo Success Ballast.
Jean-Karl Vernay (Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi) and James Nash (Lukoil Craft-Bamboo SEAT León) filled the third row.
Ferenc Ficza (Zele Racing SEAT León) qualified in tenth place and so won pole position on the top-ten reverse grid for tomorrow’s Race 2, with Dušan Borković (GE-Force Alfa Romeo Giulietta) at his side.
Following an appeal lodged by WestCoast Racing, the timekeepers amended Giacomo Altoè’s fastest lap in Q1, from 2:15.061 to 2:13:953 a time that would have allowed him to take part in Q2.
Q1: Corthals beat Homola
The DG Sport Compétition Opel Astra cars made an impressive 1-2 with Pierre-Yves Corthals setting the fastest lap of 2:11.903 ahead of his teammate Mat’o Homola (2:12.149).
Roberto Colciago was third fastest (2:12.956) in the best of the M1RA Honda Civic Type-R cars, followed by Jean-Karl Vernay (2:13.223), Dušan Borković (2:13.273) and Hugo Valente (2:13.291).
On his last attempt Attila Tassi (2:13.297) moved up to seventh, demoting by one position Ferenc Ficza, James Nash and Gianni Morbidelli. Pepe Oriola and Davit Kajaia rounded off the top-twelve for Q2. It was a close call for the Georgian driver who had had his fastest lap disallowed for trespassing the track limits.
Surprisingly, Stefano Comini – the fastest in yesterday’s Free Practice 2 – was again struggling with the balance of his Audi and could not make the cut, together with Michela Cerruti, Giacomo Altoè and Duncan Ende.
Q2: Homola and Corthals encored
Homola set the first pole position in TCR for Opel, posting a fastest lap of 2:12.073 that was nearly four tenths ahead of the rest of the field. Corthals placed the second Astra in second position (2:12.451) with Valente (2:12.656) third, Colciago (2:12.672) fourth, Kajaia (2:12.877) fifth and Vernay (2:12.896) sixth.
What the fastest drivers said after Qualifying
Mat’o Homola (1st): “We had a problem with the engine in Free Practice because of the heat and the guys worked all night to change it. I only did two laps yesterday and so Qualifying was a big mystery for me, but I knew how the track behaves and how I should behave from last year. Congratulations to DG Sport and to Opel on their first pole position. Okay, I lost pole because of the penalty, but I wanted to see what the car could do. I made one mistake on my quickest lap, so I think I could have been ever faster.”
Pierre-Yves Corthals (2nd): “I really didn’t expect to be as fast as that. Everyone had problems with the air temperature, but maybe the others suffered more than us. I made two big mistakes during my fastest lap in Q2 so I lost a lot of time. I was really happy for the team and for Opel because it was good to have the pole position in Bahrain when we are with Formula One.”
Hugo Valente (3rd): “I don’t really know what to think of the penalty for Mat’o – I would have preferred to have been on the cleaner line. Yesterday was quite difficult but I’ve been working with my engineer on the set up and today I was able to pull out a few things.”
First BoP adjustment of the season applied in Bahrain
Following the Qualifying session in Bahrain, and taking into account the results of the first race meeting of the season in Georgia, the TCR Technical Department has decided to make the first Balance of Performance adjustments of the year ahead of today’s Race 1 in Bahrain.
It was decided to reduce the engine power of the Opel Astra TCR cars to 95%, while a ride height break of 10mm has been granted to the Audi RS3 LMS and the SEAT León TCR cars that use a DSG gearbox (in Bahrain, this only applies to the Icarus Motorsports SEAT of Duncan Ende).
All car weights remain unchanged.
Roberto Colciago wins from Valente and Vernay whilst Five different car brands fill the top five places
Roberto Colciago claimed his second TCR International Series victory after last year’s win at Sepang, which also occurred during a Formula One event.
The M1RA driver and his Honda Civic Type-R made a perfect start and overhauled both the pole-sitter Pierre-Yves Corthals and Hugo Valente to lead the field going into Turn 1. That turned out to be the critical move as far as Colciago was concerned and the Italian driver led for the remainder of the nine-lap race. Valente drove a sensible race to finish second, the SEAT León never really threatening Colciago, while Jean-Karl Vernay finished third after a thrilling series of battles with Corthals, James Nash and Dušan Boković ended with Boković making contact with Corthals, which allowed Vernay’s Volkswagen to dive past the pair into a podium place.
In all, five different car brands filled the first five places with Boković’s Alfa Romeo and the Opel Astra of Corthals joining the Honda, SEAT and Volkswagen of the podium finishers. Stefano Comini’s Audi finished eighth making six brands in the top-eight.
Corthals suffered from power-sapping high engine temperatures in the race’s last few laps while it was a brake problem that caused Borković to run into Corthals and so ultimately deny the Opel a top-three finish.
In the Drivers’ championship, the result means four drivers are within a point of each other; Colciago and Vernay both have 40 points while the two race winners in Georgia Pepe Oriola (who finished sixth) and Davit Kajaia (who retired with a broken driveshaft) each have 39.
Race 2 took place on Sunday, with Ferenc Ficza (Zele Racing SEAT León) and Dušan Boković (GE-Force Alfa Romeo Giulietta) sharing the front row on the top-ten reverse grid.
RACE ONE KEY FACTS
Start: Colciago makes the best start and leads from Valente and Corthals into Turn 1
Lap 1: There’s a close fight between Kajaia, Nash and Vernay for 4th; Kajaia and Vernay make contact; Borković passes Vernay, but Vernay then passes Borković again and keeps fifth place; Nash also passes Borković for 6th
Lap 2: Borković passes Nash and Vernay for 5th place
Lap 3: There is contact between Homola and Morbidelli at Turn 1; Kajaia stops on the track with a broken driveshaft
Lap 4: Vernay passes Nash for 5th
Lap 5: Comini passes Ficza for 8th
Lap 6: Morbidelli passes Ficza for 9th
Lap 7: Vernay and Borković fight for 4th; Ende pits with brake problems
Lap 8: Borković attacks Corthals for 3rd; Vernay passes Borković for 4th, but Borković re-takes the position; Borković and Corthals make contact and Vernay passes them both to take 3rd place
Lap 9: Oriola passed Nash for 6th; Colciago wins from Valente and Vernay
Quotes from the Race 1 podium finishers
Roberto Colciago (1st): “It might have looked easy, but it wasn’t! The start was really good and after four or five laps, there was a good gap behind me. I didn’t push so hard at the beginning of the race so my tyres were still good for the second part. It’s really important not to make any mistakes at this circuit – I made one small mistake when I braked at the end of the straight, but afterwards I made no more. In the championship, there are many, many good drivers and we are always within two or three tenths, so it is much too early to be thinking about that.”
Hugo Valente (2nd): “I was quite happy with my start but I know the Honda is always very strong off the line; I don’t have a lot of experience yet with this car and we couldn’t practice starts yesterday. Roberto managed his tyres well at the beginning of the race, he made a mistake but I made a few too. I maybe could have overtaken him, but it was too risky and I need to score points for the championship, so I cooled down a bit and he was just too fast. After that, I was looking in my mirrors and also enjoying watching the big TV on the straight! I think tomorrow will definitely be more exciting and I’ll be looking for another good result for the team again.”
Jean-Karl Vernay (3rd): “My start was just terrible, so I need to work on my coordination because I’ve been struggling with that for a few months now. I was lucky not to spin on the first lap, but after that I tried to be a little bit calm. We had a small engine problem, as sometimes there was no power when I was back on the throttle. I lost a lot of time behind Borković because he did a good race and was quite fast on the straights so the only way to overtake him was to wait for a mistake and in the end it happened. I think we deserved the result – my team did a great job and the car was really, really quick so let’s see how we do tomorrow.”
Borković takes his first International Series victory as Two points cover the top three in the Drivers’ standings
Dusan Borković, driving a GE-Force Alfa Romeo Giulietta, took his first victory in the TCR International Series after a commanding performance in the stifling heat of a Bahrain Easter Sunday afternoon.
This was also the second victory for the Romeo Ferraris-built Italian car after Davit Kajaia’s in the season opener at Rustavi, Georgia.
Starting from the second row of the grid, Attila Tassi made the best start and passed both Borković and pole-sitter Ferenc Ficza going into Turn 1. Borković and Ficza quickly struck back and overhauled the M1RA Racing Honda Civic, with Borković leading from Ficza’s Zele Racing SEAT León.
The Lukoil Craft-Bamboo SEAT of James Nash and Jean-Karl Vernay in the Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi then passed Tassi, with Nash quickly snatching second place from Ficza. When Ficza then ran wide on lap 2, Vernay was one of four drivers to take advantage. Nash’s teammate Hugo Valente took third place from Vernay on lap 3 and that was how the race ended; Borković finishing ahead of Nash and Valente.
Behind the battle for the podium places, there were several thrilling fights within the top ten. Vernay held onto fourth place despite a determined challenge from the Honda of Roberto Colciago, while Pepe Oriola finished seventh, behind Ficza.
Reigning TCR champion Stefano Comini and Gianni Morbidelli made contact on a number of occasions, with the Swiss driver’s Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS eventually finishing in ninth place, ahead of the Italian in a WestCoast Racing VW.
Davit Kajaia lost a valuable sixth place on the last lap as he coasted to a halt with a stream of oil trailing from the underside of the Alfa Romeo; the oil sump was cracked after he had jumped over a kerb.
Two points now cover the top three in the Drivers’ series; Vernay has 52 points with Borković on 51 and Colciago a further point adrift. Oriola and Kajaia – the two winners on the opening weekend in Georgia – are in fourth and fifth places with 45 and 39 points respectively.
RACE TWO KEY FACTS
Grid: Sunny and hot, but windy; all 16 cars take place, including Corthals’ Opel, after the DG Sport Compétition crew managed to replace the clutch in the ninety minutes before the start of the race
Start: Tassi makes the best start and leads from Borković going into Turn 1; Borković and Ficza then both pass Tassi
Lap 1: Nash and Vernay pass Tassi for 3rd and 4th places; Nash passes Ficza for 2nd
Lap 2: Ficza runs wide and allows Vernay, Valente, Tassi and Colciago to pass; Colciago passes Tassi for 5th place; Comini is fighting with Ficza for 8th place; Altoè stops on track with both front tyres punctured
Lap 3: Valente passes Vernay for 3rd place; there are contacts between Tassi and Vernay and between Nash and Tassi
Lap 4: Kajaia locks up under braking and makes contact with Tassi; Ficza passes Tassi for 6th place
Lap 5: Comini passes Kajaia for 8th, but Oriola then passes Comini and Kajaia re-takes 8th
Lap 6: Morbidelli and Comini make contact and Morbidelli passes Comini for 10thplace
Lap 7: There is contact between Oriola and Kajaia; Colciago is attacking Vernay for 4th
Lap 8: Tassi runs wide and Kajaia passes for 7th place; Oriola then passes Tassi for 8th; Comini passes Morbidelli for 10th.
Lap 9: Kajaia stops on track with oil trailing from the car; Borković takes the win from Nash and Valente.
Quotes from the Race 2 podium finishers
Dušan Borković (1st): “I am really, really, really happy with the performance; I must thank the engineers and mechanics at Romeo Ferraris and GE-Force for giving me such a good car. I had a lot of chances to win last year but made some stupid mistakes, particularly in the first races when I was usually in the top five. Today I took advantage of being on the front row and when I saw all the fights going on after the first few corners I knew I just had to control the race. The Honda cars always make a good start but I knew I had to be in front to avoid running in the slipstream of another car and so keeping the air temperature down – luckily I know how to attack! The Alfa is much harder on the tyres than the SEAT I drove last year because of the higher torque so there are some good points for us and some not so good. I’m just delighted to win in a beautiful place like Bahrain at a Formula One event.”
James Nash (2nd): “The start is always the most important part so I was quite aggressive right at the beginning and found myself in second with a whole queue behind me. I could see Hugo was behind Vernay and I’d much rather fight with Hugo than Jean-Karl! I couldn’t catch Dušan so it was all about making sure that my second place was secure. We were all making mistakes and it was all about who made the fewest. The temperatures were really high and the tyres were struggling; it was really easy to snatch a wheel and miss an apex. I started to make mistakes over the last few laps and Hugo was catching me, but thankfully he also made some errors and created a gap for me.”
Hugo Valente (3rd): “I’m very happy. The biggest part of the job was today because starting from P8 was always going to be more difficult than yesterday. This is my third podium finish in a row and I’ve only finished three races so I’m really happy with a double podium from this weekend for sure. I said it was really important to score a lot of points this weekend and so I’m over the moon with the performance. I thought I was going to catch James at the end but I had a lot of tyre degradation as well. I’m really happy for him as he had a really difficult weekend in Georgia so it’s good to share a first podium with him; I hope there will be a lot of others this season. It was a fun race with lots of overtaking and defending and Vernay was like my bodyguard – pushing everyone off in front and then keeping Colciago behind. I’m looking forward to Spa now, I know the track and it will be interesting to see how the car behaves there.”
The TCR International Series will resume for rounds 5 and 6 at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, on May 4 to 5, in the frame of the 6 Hours of Spa, second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
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!