Dušan Borković converted pole position into victory with relative ease in the TCR Europe Series opener at Circuit Paul Ricard.
The Target Competition racer made the perfect getaway and fended off a brief threat from Daniel Nagy (M1RA), who similarly started well and passed Mikel Azcona into the first corner, to take the chequered flag 1.505 seconds clear.
Azcona completed the podium with a relatively quiet run to third on his debut in TCR machinery, validating his pace thus far in practice and qualifying.
The battle for fourth was easily the most contested, with Josh Files, Stian Paulsen, the other two Target Hyundai i30 Ns of Reece Barr and Igor Stefanovski and 2017 TCR International Series Champion Jean-Karl Vernay serving up an enthralling final few laps.
The first in a sequence of overtakes came at the double right-hander of De Beausset, with the Honda Civic Type R FK7 through on the inside – with contact – past Paulsen’s CUPRA.
Vernay, meanwhile, was tasked with creating the worlds widest Audi RS 3 LMS with both Barr and 2016 ETCC Champion Kris Richard bearing down upon him, the Frenchman surviving a slight run off circuit to hold station in sixth.
He too befell trouble at De Beausset, running wide and conceding track position to Paulsen and Richard with Barr in close attention.
Richard then turned his focus to Files’ Honda ahead, putting the Brit under relentless pressure for several tours of the 3.6 mile circuit.
Reigning TCR Germany Champion Files held strong though, despite being pitched sideways through the final corner after an optimistic move by Richard.
Richard was then given the same treatment into the Complex by team-mate Barr and came out less fortunate, dropping down to 12th.
The dice was far from settled, however, with Paulsen and Vernay passing Barr, before an opportunistic move into the final corner from Vernay dropped them both back behind the Irishman, with Igor Stefanovski also taking advantage to seize seventh from Paulsen.
The order remained thus to the chequered flag, with Files leading home the quartet of Barr, Vernay, Stefanovski and Paulsen in a scintillating fight.
Jens Reno Moller and Nicola Baldan rounded out the top ten.
Files’ team-mate Attila Tassi endured a race of contrasts, making an early surge into tenth before contact forced him back into the pit lane with a front-left puncture, and eventually out of the race despite briefly rejoining.
Stefano Comini put in an improved showing from the Subaru WRX STI, coming home 20th after starting dead last, and could have been higher if not for a late race half-spin at the final corner whilst disputing position.
The final TCR Europe race of the weekend at Le Castellet gets underway at 15:50 tomorrow [6th May].
|1||62||Dušan BORKOVIĆ||Target Competition||Hyundai i30 N TCR||12||27:08.766||2:15.350||1|
|2||9||Dániel NAGY||M1RA||Hyundai i30 N TCR||12||1.505||2:15.095||3|
|3||25||Mikel AZCONA||PCR Sport||CUPRA TCR||12||6.424||2:15.593||2|
|4||99||Josh FILES||Hell Energy Racing with KCMG||Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR||12||17.14||2:16.264||5|
|5||8||Reece BARR||Target Competition||Hyundai i30 N TCR||12||20.514||2:16.121||6|
|6||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Leopard Lukoil Team||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||12||21.602||2:16.112||7|
|7||7||Igor STEFANOVSKI||Stefanovski Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||12||21.853||2:16.355||11|
|8||34||Stian PAULSEN||Stian Paulsen Racing||CUPRA TCR||12||23.263||2:16.281||4|
|9||11||Jens Reno MØLLER||Reno Racing||Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR||12||23.453||2:16.492||10|
|10||16||Nicola BALDAN||Pit Lane Competizioni||Hyundai i30 N TCR||12||24.381||2:16.390||12|
|11||88||Maxime POTTY||Comtoyou Racing||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||12||29.042||2:16.965||14|
|12||94||Kris RICHARD||Target Competition||Hyundai i30 N TCR||12||31.794||2:15.034||8|
|13||23||Francisco ABREU||Sports & You||Peugeot 308 TCR||12||39.911||2:17.065||16|
|14||13||Cedric PIRO||Autodis Racing by Piro Sports||Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR||12||52.618||2:18.343||19|
|15||20||Márk JEDLÓCZKY||JLG Sport||CUPRA TCR||12||53.787||2:18.244||18|
|16||10||Viktor DAVIDOVSKY||PSS Racing Team||Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR||12||56.169||2:18.229||24|
|17||71||Enrico BETTERA||Pit Lane Competizioni||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||12||1:02.806||2:18.973||22|
|18||63||Giovanni ALTOÈ||Pit Lane Competizioni||Audi RS3 LMS TCR DSG||12||1:04.426||2:17.909||20|
|19||66||Andrea LARINI||Pit Lane Competizioni||CUPRA TCR||12||1:10.189||2:18.839||21|
|20||42||Stefano COMINI||Race Republic||Subaru WRX STi TCR||12||1:21.206||2:19.744||25|
|21||26||Francisco MORA||M1RA||Hyundai i30 N TCR||10||2 Laps||2:16.531||9|
|R||24||Gustavo MOURA||Speedy Motorsport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||4||DNF||2:20.885||23|
|R||90||Attila TASSI||Hell Energy Racing with KCMG||Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR||4||DNF||2:23.270||17|
|R||38||Danny KROES||PCR Sport||CUPRA TCR||3||DNF||2:18.806||15|
|R||14||Loris CENCETTI||Autodis Racing by Piro Sports||Hyundai i30 N TCR||1||DNF||2:26.928||13|