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Pepe Oriola takes lights-to-flag win at home

Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Pepe Oriola scored a light-to-flag win on home soil in the first TCR International Series race in Valencia, as team-mates Sergey Afanasyev and Jordi Gené made it a 1-2-3 result for the team.

Oriola was unchallenged in the race to score a first-ever TCR win, having a margin of over two seconds for the majority of the race.

At the start, all three Craft-Bamboo drivers got off to strong starts, whilst the three Target Competition SEAT León drivers all got off to comparatively slow starts, which the team blamed on problems with the starting system. That allowed both Afanasyev and Gené to get the jump on Andrea Belicchi, Stefano Comini and Michel Nykjær respectively.

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Late in the race, Belicchi closed the gap to Gené in front, who in turn was pressuring team-mate Afansyev for second. However neither driver was able to mount a real challenge, leaving Afanasyev to claim his second podium ahead of Gené and Belicchi.

Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Mikhail Grachev was an impressive fifth, after a strong first lap that saw him gain seven positions from 13th on the grid. The Russian thus scored his and the team’s best result of the season so far.

Comini had to settle for sixth, ahead of team-mate Nykjær with the Italian swapping positions several times with Grachev in the opening laps of the race.

WestCoast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli took eighth, making little progress in his Honda after starting from tenth on the grid.

Completing the top ten were Bas Koeten Racing’s Bas Schouten and Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Lorenzo Veglia, with Schouten passing Veglia for ninth on lap 11.

Problems for Campos Racing’s Jordi Oriola meant that he was unable to take to the start of the race, as his team worked on repairing the front-left suspension on his car in the pits. There were also problems for Franz Engstler, who had to pit on lap three whilst running in ninth due to problems with his Audi. The German had made a strong start like his team-mate, but was hit on lap one by one of his SEAT rivals, knocking his left-rear wheel out of alignment.

Kevin Gleason, like Morbidelli, struggled to make progress in his Honda and finished outside the points in 11th. The American’s other team-mate for the weekend, Igor Skuz, stopped on track on lap ten whilst running 12th. The Ukrainian was able to get going again, but was a lap down by that point.

Race two takes place at 14:05 CEST (13:05 BST).

Top ten result

1 74 Pepe ORIOLA Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL SEAT León Racer 15 26:06.049 1:42.778 1
2 77 Sergey AFANASYEV Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL SEAT León Racer 15 4.593 1:43.326 5
3 88 Jordi GENÉ Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL SEAT León Racer 15 5.285 1:43.590 6
4 33 Andrea BELICCHI Target Competition SEAT León Racer 15 6.005 1:43.679 2
5 8 Mikhail GRACHEV Liqui Moly Team Engstler Audi Sport TT Cup 15 10.046 1:43.321 13
6 25 Stefano COMINI Target Competition SEAT León Racer 15 11.57 1:43.538 3
7 17 Michel NYKJÆR Target Competition SEAT León Racer 15 12.081 1:43.873 4
8 10 Gianni MORBIDELLI West Coast Racing Honda Civic TCR 15 17.729 1:44.023 10
9 34 Bas SCHOUTEN ST Motorsport / Bas Koeten Racing SEAT León Racer 15 19.348 1:43.617 9
10 7 Lorenzo VEGLIA Liqui Moly Team Engstler SEAT León Racer 15 25.251 1:44.149 16

Complete race results

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