Roberto Colciago claimed his second TCR International Series victory after last year’s win at Sepang, which also occurred during a Formula One event.
The M1RA driver and his Honda Civic Type-R made a perfect start and overhauled both the pole-sitter Pierre-Yves Corthals and Hugo Valente to lead the field going into Turn 1. That turned out to be the critical move as far as Colciago was concerned and the Italian driver led for the remainder of the nine-lap race. Valente drove a sensible race to finish second, the SEAT León never really threatening Colciago, while Jean-Karl Vernay finished third after a thrilling series of battles with Corthals, James Nash and Dušan Borković ended with Borković making contact with Corthals, which allowed Vernay’s Volkswagen to dive past the pair into a podium place.
In all, five different car brands filled the first five places with Borković’s Alfa Romeo and the Opel Astra of Corthals joining the Honda, SEAT and Volkswagen of the podium finishers. Stefano Comini’s Audi finished eighth making six brands in the top-eight.
Corthals suffered from power-sapping high engine temperatures in the race’s last few laps while it was a brake problem that caused Borković to run into Corthals and so ultimately deny the Opel a top-three finish.
In the Drivers’ championship, the result means four drivers are within a point of each other; Colciago and Vernay both have 40 points while the two race winners in Georgia Pepe Oriola (who finished sixth) and Davit Kajaia (who retired with a broken driveshaft) each have 39.
Race 2 will take place at 13:00 local time on Sunday, with Ferenc Ficza (Zele Racing SEAT León) and Dušan Borković (GE-Force Alfa Romeo Giulietta) sharing the front row on the top-ten reverse grid. The race will be streamed live at www.tcr-series.com and www.tcr-series.tv.
Start – Colciago makes the best start and leads from Valente and Corthals into Turn 1
Lap 1 – There’s a close fight between Kajaia, Nash and Vernay for 4th; Kajaia and Vernay make contact; Borković passes Vernay, but Vernay then passes Borković again and keeps fifth place; Nash also passes Borković for 6th
Lap 2 – Borković passes Nash and Vernay for 5th place
Lap 3 – There is contact between Homola and Morbidelli at Turn 1; Kajaia stops on the track with a broken driveshaft
Lap 4 – Vernay passes Nash for 5th
Lap 5 – Comini passes Ficza for 8th
Lap 6 – Morbidelli passes Ficza for 9th
Lap 7 – Vernay and Borković fight for 4th; Ende pits with brake problems
Lap 8 – Borković attacks Corthals for 3rd; Vernay passes Borković for 4th, but Borković re-takes the position; Borković and Corthals make contact and Vernay passes them both to take 3rd place
Lap 9 – Oriola passed Nash for 6th; Colciago wins from Valente and Vernay