Luca Filippi believes second contest ‘should have stopped’ before race-ending contact

Luca Filippi believes second contest ‘should have stopped’ before race-ending contact

BRC Racing Team’s Luca Filippi believes the second race of TCR Europe at the Red Bull Ring “should have stopped” well before he had race-ending contact with eventual winner Luca Engstler on the final lap.

Filippi secured pole position for the opening race yesterday but lost out going into the first turn, having to eventually settle for second behind championship leader Josh Files.

He started the second encounter in ninth, but found himself fighting for the victory after the second safety car restart, gaining the lead after a battle with Engstler and reverse-grid polesitter Tom Coronel.

After the race, Filippi was not keen to comment on the decisive contact between he and Engstler, and instead stressed to TouringCars.Net he felt the wet conditions coupled with Jessica Bäckman’s Hyundai being precariously placed just off the racing line at turn nine meant the race should have been stopped.

“From my point of view it was not safe to finish the race in the last two laps in these conditions because we had a wet race with slicks on, with a car standing still in the racing line between turn nine and ten,” said Filippi.

“The race should have stopped, it should have stopped. They threw the safety car for a much more simple thing in turn one for one car just out of the way in a much slower place which is uphill so you see it.

“But while exciting a blind, fast corner in the wet, almost on the racing line there was a standing car for the last three laps where people were fighting like crazy.

“I think the race should have stopped, so I’m a little bit upset because the race should have been ours regardless of the accident with Engstler because the race should have been stopped one or two laps til the end.

“To be honest sometimes it is true that they overreact to the safety but this time it was necessary and they didn’t do it.

“We were lucky that nothing happened. I wasn’t happy with that.”

Filippi had been battling with eventual winner Engstler before the pair made contact approaching the penultimate corner. Photo: TCR Media

Filippi was surprised to make such good progress after his tracking was knocked out and the steering was bent after first-lap contact with Gilles Magnus, and then his wipers stopped working in the dying moments meaning he had zero visibility.

Despite this, he enjoyed some tight battles coming through the pack, particularly with Stian Paulsen, Alex Morgan and Engstler, managing to outbrake all three at one point in the race.

“[The contact] wasn’t good because it bent the rear of my car, so the whole race I had the steering wheel turned to the left, which wasn’t ideal, but I was still very strong under braking,” explained Filippi.

“That was where I was able to overtake people, especially after the restart, people were a little bit cautious and I was able to just find the gap, brake much later and go around them.

“That was a lot of fun, especially the first lap after the last safety car. I first defended from Paulsen, he was briefly in front of me, but then the corner after I was able to outbrake him, Morgan and  Engstler.

“In one braking zone I got all three, which was fun! After that, I had two issues – one was the rear of the car which wasn’t ideal, especially on the kerbs the car was weaving a little bit – but mainly my wiper wasn’t working.

“With that it was impossible, especially at the end of the race. Instead of going on too much about the incident with Engstler – which I haven’t seen – and which I don’t want to have an opinion on yet.”

The damage to the front-end of Filippi’s BRC Racing Team Hyundai.

Filippi was happy with his form at the Spielberg circuit, but rued the missed opportunity of 40 points which he felt would have brought him back into the title challenge heading into the second half of the TCR Europe season.

“It would have been good to have those 40 points in the pocket because then it would have been a good breeze for the championship because it would put us in a good position,” he said.

“You never know, anybody can have a difficult qualifying and then the weekend is over, so being 60 points behind the leader would have been still a potential fight, especially if we have this speed for the rest of the season.

“We were competitive both days, in qualifying all the time so every circuit is different – both for the car, the team and the drivers – but if this is the trend then I have to be positive.”