Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Jordi Gené won the opening TCR International Series race in Sochi, beating team-mate Pepe Oriola after the Spaniard got past Target Competition’s Andrea Belicchi on the opening lap.
Gené’s second win of the season brings him closer to championship contention, narrowing the points gap to leader Gianni Morbidelli to 22 points. The Spaniard had been on top form throughout the Sochi weekend in Russia, having taken pole position on Saturday.
Oriola took second to close the gap to series leader Morbidelli, passing Belicchi before the pack got to turn two. The Spaniard then set about challenging Gené for the lead, being on his compatriot’s tail for much of the race but being unable to find a way past.
Having lost out at the start of the race, Belicchi had to settle for third, unable to keep pace with the leading Craft-Bamboo duo.
Target Competition’s Stefano Comini was the main man on the move during the race, improving from seventh on the grid to finish fourth.
The top Russian driver was Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Sergey Afanasyev in fifth, after a fighting drive in the race when he dropped down to eighth on the opening lap. The SEAT driver finished ahead of Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Mikhail Grachev in sixth, with Grachev’s local knowledge not proving as effective in the race as he slid down the order from a high of fourth.
WestCoast Racing endured a difficult race, with Morbidelli finishing in seventh and team-mate Kevin Gleason in eighth, as the Honda Civics struggled for pace on the Sochi track.
Completing the top ten were Target Competition’s Michel Nykjær and Liqui Moly Team Engstler stand-in Tomas Engström. The duo had a close battle throughout the race, with Engström momentarily past Nykjær on lap nine. The battle between the pair came to a head on the final lap when Swede Engström hit the Dane on the final lap and damaged his radiator.
Aleksey Duduaklo finished outside the points in 11th on his TCR début, whilst fellow Russian Ildar Rakhmatullin was the only driver to retire, pulling in to the pits after nine laps.
|1||88||Jordi GENÉ||Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL||SEAT León Racer||11||11 LAPS||2:21.260||1|
|2||74||Pepe ORIOLA||Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL||SEAT León Racer||11||0.598||2:21.115||3|
|3||33||Andrea BELICCHI||Target Competition||SEAT León Racer||11||3.445||2:21.533||2|
|4||25||Stefano COMINI||Target Competition||SEAT León Racer||11||8.211||2:22.112||7|
|5||77||Sergey AFANASYEV||Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL||SEAT León Racer||11||10.948||2:22.225||6|
|6||8||Mikhail GRACHEV||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||SEAT León Racer||11||12.023||2:22.030||5|
|7||10||Gianni MORBIDELLI||West Coast Racing||Honda Civic TCR||11||14.444||2:22.300||8|
|8||24||Kevin GLEASON||West Coast Racing||Honda Civic TCR||11||18.42||2:22.338||10|
|9||17||Michel NYKJÆR||Target Competition||SEAT León Racer||11||20.262||2:22.151||9|
|10||4||Tomas ENGSTRÖM||Liqui Moly Team Engstler||SEAT León Racer||11||23.691||2:21.909||4|
|11||2||Aleksey DUDUKALO||Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL||SEAT León Racer||11||25.794||2:22.672||11|
|R||26||Ildar RAKHMATULLIN||West Coast Racing||Honda Civic TCR||9||2 LAPS||2:23.265||12|