Pepe Oriola wins a breathtaking opening night race
02 April 2016
The 2016 TCR International Series kicked off with a breath-taking night race during the Barhain Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The 2015 vice-champion Pepe Oriola started his new campaign on a high note; with a spotless performance the young Spaniard drove his SEAT León of Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil to claim an authoritative victory. Oriola got the better of his team-mates James Nash and polesitter Sergey Afanasyev during the first lap, then was able to control Nash’s attacks in the early stages and the return of Gianni Morbidelli’s Honda Civic in the final laps.
The Italian driver put in a strong effort to recover from fourth to second, jumping ahead of Afanasyev and Nash who finished in the order. Dušan Borković was able to finish in sixth position, inches behind Aku Pellinen, after he had been involved in a four-car clash with Stefano Comini, Kevin Gleason and Jean-Karl Vernay.
The reigning champion Comini was classified seventh and best of the Volkswagen drivers, while Mat’o Homola and Davit Kajaia finished in eighth and ninth at the end of a long and fair fight.
None of the 18 cars retired for technical reasons, only Gleason and Vernay did not finish because of the incident. Jordi Oriola’s Opel Astra, Luigi Ferrara’s Subaru and Michela Cerruti’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta managed to complete the race, just like the two Bahraini drivers in the Bas Koeten Racing old SEAT cars.
Race 2 will take place tomorrow at 12.35 local time.
Start – Afanasyev and Borkovićtake a bad start on the front row; Nash takes the lead clashing with P. Oriola; at the back of the field, Cerruti is squeezed by Belicchi and Grachev
Lap 1 – Borkovićand Vernay make contact; Comini passes Gleason for 9th; P. Oriola leads from Nash, Afanasyev, Morbidelli, Pellinen and Vernay
Lap 2 – Gleason passes Comini for 7th; Kajaia are in a fight Homola for 11th
Lap 3 – Afanasyev tries to resist to Morbidelli, but eventually concedes the position
Lap 4 – Vernay passes Pellinen for fifth, while Nash chases P. Oriola; Borkovićcloses in on Comini, they make contact and collect Vernay and Gleason who are forced to retire
Lap 5 – Kajaia passes Grachev for 9th; Morbidelli is closing the gap from the leading duo of P. Oriola and Nash
Lap 6 – Comini takes 6th from Homola who strikes back and regains the position; eventually both Comini and Kajaia are able to overtake Homola
Lap 7 – Morbidelli passes Nash for 2nd on the straight, but the Brit retakes the advantage, just to lose again it shortly afterwards
Lap 8 – Kajaia takes 8th from Homola
Lap 9 – Morbidelli is on P. Oriola heels
Lap 10 – P. Oriola wins ahead of Morbidelli, Nash, Afanasyev; Homola retakes 8th from Kajaia
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