Mikel Azcona dominates Jarama race one as Mehdi Bennani takes championship lead

Mikel Azcona led from start to finish in the opening TCR Europe race at Jarama, as Mehdi Bennani made the most of Mike Halder crashing out to take the championship lead.

2018 champion Azcona continued his winning return to the series with his third successive victory, but Bennani now leads the championship with one race left after Mike Halder collided with Franco Girolami on lap nine.

The German driver had a 19 point lead going to the race, but locked up while running ninth at the hairpin at turn two and couldn’t stop the car in time to avoid the PSS Racing Honda Civic ahead on the damp track.

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With Halder scoring zero points, it now means Bennani – who took fourth in race one – has an eight point advantage over the German driver going into race two.

The championship fight is now effectively between the pair, although Nicolas Baert, who finished eighth and John Filippi, who could only manage 11th, are both still mathematically in the running for the title.

A dramatic race saw two safety car periods, firstly after Jessica Bäckman slammed into the side of Pepe Oriola on the opening lap at the turn nine hairpin, before the collision involving Halder and Girolami brought it out for a second time on lap nine.

Behind dominant race winner Azcona was Teddy Clairet, with Mat’o Homola completing the podium – both drivers simply couldn’t match the pace of the CUPRA driver ahead.

With Bennani taking a large number of points in his pursuit of the title in fourth, fifth in race one went to Julien Briché in the JSB Competition Peugeot.

The Frenchman had been battling with the Target Competition Hyundai of Andreas Bäckman and managed to get ahead of him late on.

The top 10 in the opening race of the day was completed by Daniel Nagy, Baert in the ComToYou Racing Audi, Daniel Lloyd and Sami Taoufik.

Lloyd had started the race in 23rd and despite his best efforts with a fine drive through the field, is no longer in contention for the championship that he led during the early stages of the season.

With one round remaining and 40 points still up for grabs, Mehdi Bennani will start the second race of the day in seventh, while Mike Halder will start race two in 14th.

The final round of the 2020 TCR Europe season takes place later today at 14:10 CEST (13:10 BST).

Race result

POS NO DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
1 96 Mikel AZCONA Volcano Motorsport CUPRA TCR 17 17 LAPS 1:39.010 1
2 20 Teddy CLAIRET Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 17 6.618 1:40.317 2
3 70 Mat’o HOMOLA BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 17 8.009 1:40.300 3
4 250 Mehdi BENNANI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 17 9.671 1:40.325 4
5 24 Julien BRICHÉ JSB Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR 17 11.066 1:40.364 5
6 19 Andreas BÄCKMAN Target Competition Hyundai i30 N TCR 17 14.281 1:41.091 6
7 99 Dániel NAGY BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 17 15.436 1:41.158 9
8 8 Nicolas BAERT Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 17 15.776 1:41.025 7
9 123 Daniel LLOYD Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 17 16.408 1:40.954 23
10 25 Sami TAOUFIK Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 17 17.119 1:40.807 11
11 27 John FILIPPI Target Competition Hyundai i30 N TCR 17 17.599 1:40.914 10
12 21 Jimmy CLAIRET Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 17 18.271 1:41.049 24
13 13 Enrique HERNANDO SMC Junior Motorsport Peugeot 308 TCR 17 23.874 1:42.186 22
14 31 Tom CORONEL Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 17 24.008 1:41.773 16
15 33 José Manuel SAPAG Target Competition Hyundai i30 N TCR 17 24.601 1:41.743 15
16 199 Fernando NAVARRETE SMC Junior Motorsport Peugeot 308 TCR 17 25.374 1:41.906 20
17 16 Evgenii LEONOV Volcano Motorsport CUPRA TCR 17 25.699 1:41.682 17
18 10 Viktor DAVIDOVSKI PSS Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 17 27.002 1:41.975 18
19 53 Michelle HALDER Profi Car Team Halder Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 17 29.316 1:42.001 19
R 72 Franco GIROLAMI PSS Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 8 DNF 1:42.582 12
R 7 Mike HALDER Profi Car Team Halder Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 8 DNF 1:42.183 14
R 74 Pepe ORIOLA Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 0 DNF N/A 13
R 26 Jessica BÄCKMAN Target Competition Hyundai i30 N TCR 0 DNF N/A 8
R 17 Martin RYBA Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 0 DNF N/A 21

TCR Europe points deficit after Round 11
Graphic: TouringCars.Net

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