It was a masterpiece overtaking manoeuvre that enabled Gianni Morbidelli to score his second race win of the day at Oschersleben. On the last lap and in the last-but-one turn, the Italian dived inside Mat’o Homola’s Opel to strip the young Slovak of his first victory at the wheel of the Astra.
The race was marred by a catastrophic pile-up at the start that involved eight cars and eliminated some of the top-guns, such as Roberto Colciago, Pepe Oriola, Rob Huff and James Nash.
After the wrecked cars were removed, the race could finally start and offered a great fight between the first four drivers who were running bumper-to-bumper for the whole 15 laps.
Homola tried everything to keep the Volkswagen Golf cars of Jean-Karl Vernay and Morbidelli behind, although they were clearly faster. Daniel Lloyd stuck on the tail of the leading trio, waiting for a gap to improve his third place.
After Morbidelli passed Vernay for second it was quite clear that Homola leadership was under a serious threat, as the Italian had a much faster pace. Eventually, Homola’s dream of giving Opel its maiden victory in the TCR International Series melted only a few hundreds metres from the chequered flag.
With Colciago and Oriola eliminated in the incident at the start and Attila Tassi stopped by a flat tyre, Vernay retook the leadership in the standings, one point ahead of the young Hungarian. Colciago slipped to third, with a gap of eight points, while Stefano Comini (fifth in the race), is now only one further point adrift in fourth place.
Amongst the survivors were Duncan Ende and Ferenc Ficza; the American finished seventh and scored his first points in the championship, while Ficza was classified tenth (despite a pit stop) and pocketed the first point as a KIA driver.
The TCR International Series will resume after the summer break at Buriram’s Chang International Circuit, Thailand, on September 2 and 3.
Grid – Panis is missing following an engine failure
Start – Homola starts well, but there is havoc behind him; Colciago swerves to the left and hits Vernay who is pushed against Oriola; Oriola’s car collects Altoè’s, Colciago is t-boned by Nash, while Altoè bounces to the other side of the track and crashes with Paulsen, Huff and Engstler; the race is red-flagged and the surviving cars retake their original grid positions
Re-start – Of the eight cars involved in the pile up, only Vernay’s can make the grid; once again Homola makes the best start
Lap 1 – van Lagen goes wide at Turn 1 and drops to 6th; him and Comini swap paint in a close fight
Lap 2 – Borković overtakes Kajaia for 8th; van Lagen stops with a flat front tyre
Lap 3 – Vervisch overtakes Tassi for 8th; Borković retires with a broken exhaust
Lap 4 – Morbidelli overtakes Lloyd for third; Kroes overtakes Møller for 9th
Lap 5 – Vernay is chasing Homola, 0.3 seconds behind
Lap 6 – Ficza pits with vibrations and rejoins
Lap 7 – Kajaia retires with a flat front tyre; Kroes tries to overtake Vervisch for 6th, but goes off and retires
Lap 8 – Morbidelli overtakes Vernay for second; Møller and Demoustier fight for 8th
Lap 9 – Homola, Morbidelli and Vernay are covered by only 7 tenths
Lap 11 – The leading quartet of Homola, Morbidelli, Vernay and Lloyd delivers a close battle for victory; Demoustier and Møller are given drive-through penalties for track limits
Lap 13 – Tassi retires with a flat front tyre
Lap 15 – Morbidelli overtakes Homola on the last-but-one turn and wins; Homola keeps second ahead of Vernay and Lloyd