Gianni Morbidelli converted his pole position in an authoritative and much awaited victory for him and the WestCoast Racing team. The Italian driver had not been able to win a race from April 2016 at Estoril, while this was the first victory for the Swedish team since they have switched to the Volkswagen Golf cars.
Morbidelli made a perfect start and led from lights to flag, even in spite of the safety car intervention after the incident between Tassi and Vernay. “It’s really nice to win again, I’m really happy for the team as this comes at the right moment, after a challenging start of the season. The car today was perfect, just as I wanted it. I managed to start well and pushed to build a sufficient gap, but had to repeat that after the safety-car period. Luckily, it all went well,” he commented.
Daniel Lloyd claimed his first podium finish with a brilliant second place, while Rob Huff defended his third from the assaults of James Nash.
Once again Morbidelli’s young teammate Giacomo Altoè proved consistent in finishing fifth, while Stefano Comini recovered from 17th on the grid to 6th under the chequered flag. A result that might prove crucial in the title fight, considering that none of the top-three drivers in the standings – Tassi, Roberto Colciago and Vernay – scored points.
It was an eventful race, with a number of contacts (that resulted in penalties for Vernay and Oriola), flat tyres and even a black flag to Stian Paulsen for repeatedly trespassing the track limits.
The second race will start at 14:35 local time; Mat’o Homolawill sit on pole with Vernay alongside him. The race will be streamed live at www.tcr-series.com and www.tcr-series.tv.
Grid – Vervisch was demoted (from 16th) to the back of the grid, due to an engine change
Start – Morbidelli starts well from pole and leads from Lloyd; Huff jumps to third into Turn 1, while van Lagen drops to fifth behind Nash and Oriola
Lap 1 – Vernay and Tassi come together into Turn 1, they both spin and rejoin at the back
Lap 2 – Paulsen overtakes Borković for 11th
Lap 3 - Engstler overtakes Homola for 9th; Kajaia goes wide on the grass and rejoins
Lap 4 – Panis drives wide onto the grass and rejoins; Vernay hits Tassi and sends him off
Lap 5 – The safety car is deployed to recover Tassi’s car; Colciago pits with a flat front tyre; Engstler retires with a pierced radiator
Lap 8 – The race resumes; Comini moves up to 8th overtaking Paulsen and Homola; Oriola overtakes van Lagen for 5th after hitting him; Vernay is given a drive-through for the incident with Tassi
Lap 9 – Kajaia overtakes Kroes for 12th
Lap 10 – Oriola is given a drive-through for the incident with van Lagen; Tassi rejoins, but is black-flagged as he received mechanical aids to exit from the gravel trap
Lap 11 – Homola defends his 7th position from van Lagen and Paulsen
Lap 12 – Paulsen overtakes van Lagen for 8th, Borković retires with a pierced radiator
Lap 13 – Paulsen nearly loses his car and van Lagen retakes 8th
Lap 15 – Homola, Paulsen and van Lagen continue fighting; Kajaia joins the fighting trio
Lap 17 – Møller pits with a flat front tyre; Paulsen is black-flagged for track limits
Lap 18 – Kajaia slows down with a flat front tyre
Lap 19 – Morbidelli wins from Lloyd, Huff successfully defend third place from Nash