With the TCR Season now over, here’s a reminder of how the last few weekends of the 2018 TCR Europe Series finished.
Here is the TCR Talk roundup of all the action that took place at the historic Assen TT circuit, from Qualifying all the way through to Race One on Saturday and Race Two on Sunday…
The 2018 TCR Europe Series Entry List For Assen:
The TCR Europe Series resumes in The Netherlands
The TCR Europe Series resumed after a six-week break for rounds 9 and 10 at Assen’s TT Circuit as part of the Gamma Racing Day, a popular race meeting that also includes the FIM Sidecar World Championship, the CIK-FIA European Superkart Championship and the Dutch Supercar Challenge.
Mikel Azcona and Dušan Borković arrived in the Netherlands as first and second in the standings, split by just one point. The young Spaniard and his PCR Sport Cupra topped the table with 112 points, while the Serbian driver scored 111 at the wheel of the Target Competition Hyundai i30 N. Dániel Nagy wass in third position with a gap of 25 points, with the aim of claiming his first win in the M1RA Hyundai.
Some other drivers who had the opportunity to relaunch their chances in the title fight, included Leopard Lukoil Team’s Jean-Karl Vernay and the Hell Energy Racing duo of Josh Files and Attila Tassi. The latter is was looking for a maiden race win just like Stefano Comini, Stian Paulsen, Kris Richard and homeboy Danny Kroes who teamed up with Azcona at PCR Sport.
Because of the combination between Balance of Performance and Compensation Weight, the Hyundai and Cupra were the heaviest cars in Assen, running at 1305 kg. The Audi RS3 LMS and Honda Civic Type R were ten kilos lighter (1295 kg), while the Peugeot 308 and Volkswagen Golf GTI ran at 1285 and 1275 kg respectively.
The Assen races will also be awarded points for the TCR Benelux and TCR Swiss Trophies.
Files was fastest in Qualifying, but Vernay had the pole
Josh Files and his Hell Energy Racing Honda Civic set the fastest lap in Qualifying, however it was the Leopard Lukoil Team’s Audi RS3 LMS of Jean-Karl Vernay to win the pole position for Race One.
In fact, the Briton was demoted to fourth due to a penalty that was the consequence of an incident occurred during the previous event at the Hungaroring.
Maxime Potty qualified his Comtoyou Racing’s Volkswagen Golf GTI in third position and started from the second spot, followed by the M1RA Hyundai of Dániel Nagy.
Track limit infringements had a crucial impact on the Qualifying results, as many drivers had their fastest laps disallowed and some others were reinstated after the Stewards reversed their own decisions.
Nagy (1:45.282), Duśan Borković (1:45.387) and Mikel Azcona (1:45.491) had been punished for trespassing the track limits in Q2. After listening to the drivers and reviewing the marshal reports, the Stewards of the Meeting cancelled the decisions. Nagy, who had set the fourth fastest time, started third because of the three-position grid penalty inflicted to Josh Files for an incident during the previous event at the Hungaroring that dropped him from first to fourth.
Borković, who had set the seventh fastest lap, was demoted by three positions down to tenth because he had received the same penalty as Files. Azcona started from seventh on the grid; he had posted the eighth-fastest lap but regained one position because of Borković’s penalty.
This also changed the reversed top-ten grid for Race 2 that would see Stian Paulsen on pole position and Julien Briché alongside him.
Dániel Nagy claims his maiden international victory
Dušan Borković retakes the lead in the standings
Dániel Nagy capitalised on a great overtaking manoeuvre at Jean-Karl Vernay’s expense to claim his maiden victory in TCR Europe, the second consecutive for the M1RA team.
Dušan Borković delivered a thrilling performance, as he was able to recover and finish sixth, a result that helped him to retake the lead in the standings with a margin of five points over Mikel Azcona who is now on equal points with Nagy.
After setting the fastest lap in Qualifying and being dropped to fourth on the grid by a penalty, Josh Files took a brilliant start and chased the leading duo of Vernay and Nagy until he was pushed wide by Kris Richard; an incident that is currently under investigation.
From that moment onwards, the pace of Files’ Honda faded and he dropped until finishing in tenth position at the end.
The second position meant that Vernay won the TCR Benelux race and climbed to fourth in the standings, 35 points behind Borković. Giovanni Altoè won the DSG Trophy in 18th position overall.
Driver quotes after the first race
Dániel Nagy (winner): “I am really happy, as this is my first international race win. At last! I want to thank the M1RA team that has done a great job and gave me a perfect car. I took a good start and in lap 4, when I saw an opportunity to pass Vernay, I went for it. We had a fair battle and he was very fast, but I could keep the advantage. Now is time to celebrate a bit, but also to start thinking about the championship, because we are in a very good position in the standings.”
Jean-Karl Vernay (second): “It’s frustrating to lose a win that we should have claimed, but that’s racing. Everything went well in the initial laps, but then I was a little bit late at the braking into the first corner and Nagy passed. Given yesterday’s heavy repairs to the chassis, not everything was perfect in the car, especially in brake balance. I was able to keep side-by-side with him and retake the lead, but then we arrived at turns 3 and 4 and there was gravel all over the tarmac and couldn’t keep the line. I am a little annoyed, as the points lost would have been very useful.”
Kris Richard (third): “I am quite happy with the result today. The car was good, we had a strong race pace, as always, and that goes to the team’s credit. I lost one position at the start, then gained it back at first corner to become fifth. Thanks to the good pace, I could catch and eventually pass the two Honda cars in front of me, and secure a nice podium.”
Attila Tassi wins from the title contenders at Assen
Borković and Azcona are split by just two points
Attila Tassi became the eighth different race winner in the 2018 TCR Europe when he claimed his maiden victory in Assen’s Race 2.
The young Hungarian and his Hell Energy Racing Honda Civic led for the whole distance and crossed the finishing line ahead of the title contenders Mikel Azcona (PCR Sport Cupra) and Dušan Borković (Target Competition Hyundai i30 N).
Because yesterday’s Race 1 winner M1RA’s Dániel Nagy retired due to a suspected engine failure, Borković and Azcona are on top of the standings, split by just two points: 134 to 132. However, Nagy is still in contention as he lies third, 20 points behind Borković; Tassi has moved up to fourth, with a gap of 39 points.
While Tassi and Azcona were able to pull away, Borković tried everything to steal third from a determined Stian Paulsen and eventually succeeded with a superb overtaking manoeuvre.
In the final part of the race, behind the leading trio, Paulsen, Maxime Potty, Kris Richard and Stefano Comini put in a great show as they swapped positions several times; eventually it was a charging Comini who was classified fourth and first in TCR Benelux, just like in Race 1, proving that he can now compete for a race victory in the Autodis Racing-THX Honda.
Giovanni Altoè encored his victory in the DSG Trophy.
The penultimate event of TCR Europe takes place at Monza on 22/23 September.
Quotes from the second race podium
Attila Tassi (winner): “My first win of the season, at last! It was more than one year that I was waiting for this, so I am very happy. This time, everything went very well, with no hiccups. The team gave me a perfect car, I really had a good pace. I took a good start and then I could pass Azcona after a short fight and keep the lead until the end. It’s really wonderful.”
Mikel Azcona (second): “I am very happy with second, it’s very good for the championship. In a difficult weekend like this, it’s well beyond my expectations. I had a good start and took the lead after passing Paulsen. Then Tassi was catching me, he had a faster pace and I couldn’t resist much. It didn’t make sense, as slowing him would have allowed the others to come back. I was even surprised I could stay close to Attila and close on him in the chicanes. For me, it’s a really good result.”
Dušan Borković (third): “It was a little crazy as a race for me… but, all in all, third is not bad. My start wasn’t very good, then I was fighting with my teammate Kris Richard, he hit me and I hit him back, it wasn’t very clever to have that kind of fight between the two of us.”
As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group who share their thoughts as well as any news from FIA WTCR, The TCR Europe Series, Domestic & Regional TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series which started this year.
All images are used courtesy of WSC / TCR Europe Touring Car Series
Until next time, all the best!