Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Spanish duo Pepe Oriola and Jordi Gené are looking to close the gap to TCR International Series leader Stefano Comini at Monza this weekend.
Comini leads the championship in his Target Competition SEAT, but Oriola and Gené are keen to close their 12-point and 26-point deficits respectively, as both drivers look to add their second win of the season to their tally.
Gené made the biggest progress last time out in Portugal, scoring a double podium to lift himself closer to title contention. The experienced touring car driver wants to build on that momentum as the TCR battle heads to northern Italy.
“I really want to build on the success I had in Algarve and score as many points as possible, as I am only one point behind third place [Gianni] Morbidelli,” said Gené. “It is a high speed circuit with a few long straights so it should make overtaking a little easier but I will be pushing hard in qualifying to give myself the best shot at a good start. However, I am carrying the 30kg of success ballast this weekend so it will make my challenge extra difficult.”
Oriola returns to Monza for the first time since 2013 when the World Touring Car Championship last appeared on the famous circuit, and the Spaniard is keen to bounce back from the retirement he suffered in the first race in Portimão.
“I am only 12 points behind Comini, so this weekend I am really focusing on closing the gap between us,” said Oriola. “I am excited to be racing here at Monza; it is such a historical circuit and a fantastic race to have on the TCR International Series calendar.”
The team’s third car, driven by Russian Sergey Afanasyev, is further adrift in the championship battle, with the 27-year-old being eighth overall, some 79 points behind the leader.
“This weekend I am hoping for a clean race, as I continue finding myself being caught up in contact with other drivers which has been affecting my challenge,” explained Afansyev. “The team has been doing a fantastic job with my car and I am confident that some good results will be possible here. It will be really great to see the TCR cars competing here and I hope my teammates and I can take the team championship lead this weekend.”
Craft-Bamboo CEO Richard Coleman is not expecting the SEAT cars to be able to compete with the WestCoast Racing’s Honda’s, despite the Swedish team also expressing caution about their top-speed capabilities.
“The team has done an excellent job over the last month in what has been an incredibly busy European schedule,” said Coleman. “We are now at famous Monza, but it is going to be a challenge because we know that the Hondas will be quick around this high speed circuit.
“I hope that we have some clean racing and the drivers can come away with some results.”