The Autodromo Vallelunga Piero Taruffi played host to the first-ever running of the FIA Motorsport Games, which saw six different types of Motorsport take place with the aim of allowing different countries to go head to head for the prize of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals.
Amongst these different types of Motorsport disciplines was the Touring Car Cup, which was run to TCR regulations and included the current Balance of Performance that is used globally.
You can find out all the details regarding the format of the Touring Car Cup in my previous article that relates to how the event takes place and how the Drivers/Nations score to win their medals here.
Qualifying One – Saturday Touring Car Cup grid
Overnight rain ensured a wet start to the day’s first track action. But despite the surface appearing to dry over the course of the half-hour session, it was Luca Engstler’s early time of 1m56.941s – 16s shy of yesterday’s dry pace – that earned Germany provisional pole.
However, a subsequent engine change would drop the Hyundai to the back of the grid for race one and hand Russia’s Klim Gavrilov pole position. The Audi started alongside Mato Homola’s Hyundai after both drivers also set their fastest times early in the session.
A post-practice engine change also ensured Ka To Jim’s fourth quickest time counted for nothing. Instead, the United Kingdom’s Rory Butcher would start third, two places ahead of where he qualified, while the Netherlands’ Tom Coronel lines up alongside the Scottish driver.
John Filippi’s Team France Cupra joined Audi, Hyundai, MG and Honda in the top-five, while Gilles Magnus (Belgium) started sixth. Kouril Jr of the Czech Republic, Zviedris for Team Latvia, Norbert Kiss from Team Hungary and Enrico Bettera from Team Italy completed the top ten places on the grid.
Qualifying Two – Sunday Touring Car Cup grid
Russia came within less than a minute of claiming two pole positions before Gilles Magnus’ late flyer handed Team Belgium top spot for tomorrow’s Touring Car Cup race.
Klim Gavrilov spent much of the 30-minute session on top of the pile after twice lowering the provisional pole time. However, it was Magnus – who’d remained his main rival throughout – that ultimately topped the times courtesy of the fastest time of the weekend: 1m40.235s.
Gavrilov finished 0.495s behind but, with medals decided on the basis of points scored in both races, will be content with a second front row start.
Tom Coronel added third to his earlier fourth place to also keep the Netherlands firmly in gold medal contention after knocking Slovakia’s Mato Homola down to fourth, while Faine Kahia (New Zealand) and Jessica Backmann (Sweden) saved their best qualifying performances for the second session.
John Filippi of France, Jim Ka To from Team Hong Kong, Enrico Bettera for Italy and Rory Butcher for Team UK completed the top ten places on the grid for the second race.
Saturday Touring Car Cup Race
Klim Gavrilov made the perfect start to Team Russia’s Touring Car Cup assault by claiming a comfortable victory and maximum 25 points in Race 1 earlier today.
The regulation lights-to-flag win by five seconds from Mato Homola (Slovakia) was in stark contrast to the battle raging behind where Gilles Magnus’ bold moves helped the Belgian rise from sixth to third.
One of those came at the expense of Rory Butcher whose poor getaway from third dropped the UK’s entry out of contention almost immediately. Instead, and following an early Safety Car period to remove Norway’s stricken Alfa Romeo, it was France’s John Filippi who held the final podium spot ahead of Tom Coronel.
The French and Dutch entries initially ran nose-to-tail before Magnus joined the party by sneaking his Audi down the inside. It wasn’t quite enough to dislodge Coronel at first but when the Belgian attempted to switch back underneath the Honda contact was inevitably made, which sent the Civic sliding wide.
Not that it concerned Magnus who then set his sights on passing Filippi. He was on the Cupra’s tail in no time and shot past at the fast Curva Grande sweeper with just under six minutes remaining.
Filippi spent the final moments fending off Dusan Kouril Jr (Czech Republic) who picked up two places en route to fifth. Faine Kahia (New Zealand) and Jessica Backman (Sweden) also made progress from 11th and 12th to finish ahead of Coronel, who somehow crabbed his way to eighth after the earlier clash with Magnus.
Italy’s Enrico Bettera finished ninth while Jim Ka To battled through from 19th to claim the final point for Hong Kong.
Elsewhere, Luca Engstler’s chances of winning a medal now appear to be over after an engine change prevented the German from taking up his pole position. And with the new unit still not installed before the race began, there was no chance to score even a handful of points.
But there was no denying Gavrilov who has another excellent chance of scoring big points on Sunday when he lines up second behind Magnus.
Indeed, the 30-minute race is worth 30 points to the winner, while points are scored all the way down to 15th.
Sunday Touring Car Cup Race
Klim Gavrilov moved Russia to the top of FIA Motorsport Games’ medal table ahead of the final event after converting his overnight points’ advantage into gold. Race 2 victory for Gilles Magnus helped Belgium claim their second silver medal of this year’s competition while Mato Homola took bronze for Slovakia.
Two Safety Car periods and light drizzle played their part in an entertaining medal showdown at Vallelunga where Magnus’ straightforward lights-to-flag victory left Gavrilov with no choice but to finish second.
He did, but only just.
Startline contact between Enrico Bettera’s stalled Audi and an unsighted Luca Engstler meant just 17 minutes remained once racing began in earnest. Gavrilov, who maintained second at the restart, initially rebuffed Tom Coronel’s numerous advances after the Dutchman passed Homola around the outside at the final corner.
And having successfully seen off the Honda, the Russian was able to establish a two-second advantage as the race ticked towards its conclusion.
Just three minutes remained when a second Safety Car intervention was required to retrieve Team China’s MG, which set-up a breathless one-lap medal dash.
While Magnus initially sprinted clear, Gavrilov was left to contend with a reinvigorated Coronel, Homola and Rory Butcher (United Kingdom), who’d fought his way through from 10th on the grid. Classic tin-top action ensued as Coronel – now aided by Magnus deliberately backing up Gavrilov – tried every trick in the book to find a way into second.
They continued battling all the way to the chequered flag where Gavrilov finally sealed gold by just 0.1s.
Butcher was a similar margin behind in fourth while Homola’s third and fifth places across the two races helped Slovakia claim their first medal of the championships.
John Filippi capped off a solid weekend with sixth in Race 2 and fourth overall for France after beating a charging Jessica Backman (Sweden) and Lithuania’s Julius Adomavicius.
The 2019 Motorsport Games Touring Car Cup was hailed as a success with Klim Gavrilov/Team Russia securing the Gold Medal ahead of Gilles Magnus/Team Belgium winning the Silver Medal whilst Mat’o Homola/Team Slovakia claimed the Bronze Medal.
I will be keeping things up to date on here as well as in The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group where members will also be sharing their thoughts and any news from The 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), The 2019 TCR Europe Touring Car Series, The 2019 TCR UK Touring Car Championship and other Domestic & Regional TCR Series from around the world.
All images are used in this blog are courtesy of FIA Motorsport Games / SRO Organisation unless otherwise credited.
Until next time, all the best!