WestCoast Racing’s Greger Petersson was left feeling frustrated after the season opener of the TCR International Series in Bahrain, where drivers Gianni Morbidelli and Kevin Gleason controversially made contact in the second race.
Having earlier secured a second-pklace finish in Saturday’s first race, Morbidelli was on a charge in race two when he came up behind team-mate Gleason late in the race.
Looking to secure a double podium, Morbidelli made a move on the American into turn 13 on the penultimate lap, with the two Hondas making side-on contact.
That proved to be enough for Gleason to be out of the race at the following corner, whilst Morbidelli was half-way around the final lap when he picked up a puncture as a result of the incident, dropping him from third to seventh.
Although third driver Aku Pellinen was able to benefit and move into a podium position, the Finn was later handed a post-race 30-second penalty for having been adjudged to have jumped the start.
“This will not be the way for WestCoast Racing / Sportpromotion to win championships,” said a frustrated Petersson. “What was a strong team performance was tarnished by an unnecessary incident between two of our drivers.
“We will be sure to avoid this kind of situation in the future, as it negates a lot of the hard work the team has put in and removes the gloss of the race one result for Gianni.”
Unlike his team-mates, Pellinen himself aditted that he had tried to stay out of trouble on his début weekend in the TCR Series.
“To finish my first weekend in the TCR and with the Honda on the podium is of course a very good result, and I am very happy,” he said in the post-race press conference, before his penalty was applied. “There was quite a good deal of fighting in both races, even with my teammates, but that’s fine.
“I just tried to be clever and stay out of trouble, aiming at the points, and I think the strategy paid-off.”
Pellinen was demoted from third to tenth as a result of the decision.