TCR International Series competitors delivered another breath-taking race at Sepang, full of overtaking manoeuvres, clashes, spins, position-swapping and safety car interventions.
Kevin Gleason emerged as the winner, stepping back on top of the podium one year after his last victory at Singapore. The WestCoast Racing driver overtook the early leader Tin Sritrai just in time to avoid the carnage behind him.
The young Thai, who had been sidelined yesterday by a turbo failure, seemed well on the way to claim a sensational result – possibly an overall podium – but saw his dream swept away by contact with Stefano Comini.
That contact cost the reigning champion dearly; he was given a drive-through penalty, which was translated into a 30-second time penalty because he was informed during the last three laps of the race.
On top of this, after Pepe Oriola was involved in a door-to-door fight with a group of other drivers during the last lap, he eventually finished out of the points.
While all of this was happening, James Nash emerged as the biggest winner of the Malaysian weekend, as he re-took the Drivers’ series lead with an advantage of 17 points.
The series’ finale will take place in Macau on November 20.
Grid – All 23 cars are on the grid, including Galiana’s SEAT on which a new turbo has been installed
Warm up lap – The engine of Pastorelli’s Ford blows and spills oil onto the right side of the starting line; the field is stopped by the marshals at the end of the lap while dust is sprinkled onto the oil slick; the race will start behind the safety car in a single line over the reduced distance of 10 laps instead of 11
Lap 2 – The actual race starts, Sritrai leads from Gleason and Nash; Comini overtakes Morbidelli for fourth at Turn 15
Lap 3 – Gleason tries to dive through the inside in Turn 1, but Sritrai closes the gap; Comini overtakes Nash for third
Lap 4 – Comini, Nash and Morbidelli are in a close battle for third; Gleason overtakes Sritrai and takes the lead; Comini hits Sritrai who spins at Turn 14 and re-joins in 11th position
Lap 5 – Gleason leads from Comini, Nash, Morbidelli, Homola, Vernay; Oriola overtakes Grachev for 7th and Vernay for 6th
Lap 6 – Grachev and Colciago make contact while fighting for 8th; Colciago goes off onto the gravel trap and Grachev spins having lost one rear tyre
Lap 7 – The safety car is deployed
Lap 8 – The race resumes, Vernay outbrakes himself at Turn 1 and goes wide, dropping from 7th to 10th; Comini is given a drive-through for the incident with Sritrai; Vernay overtakes Hezemans for 9th
Lap 9 – Homola, Oriola and Borković are in a tough fight over 6th
Lap 10 – Gleason wins ahead of Comini (who did not observe the penalty), Nash and Morbidelli; the fight for 5th heats up between Homola, Oriola, Vernay, Borković, Hezemans and Afanasyev; there are contacts and eventually Borković finishes 5th ahead of Vernay, Hezemans and Homola, while Oriola drops to 14th
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