Teddy Clairet led from start to finish to take a commanding win in the opening race of the TCR Europe championship at Paul Ricard.
Clairet, driving the Clairet Sport Peugeot, made a fine start as the lights went out and didn’t look back as he went on to take a fine victory by 4.012 seconds over the first of the Hyundai Elantra’s of Felice Jelmini.
Alongside race winner Clairet on the grid was reigning champion Mehdi Bennani, but the Moroccan made a poor start on the opening lap and as a result ended up being overtaken by several of his Sebastien Loeb Racing teammates on the run down to turn one.
Two of the team’s four drivers – Sami Taoufik and Niels Langeveld – made contact at the chicane at turns one and two and young Moroccan driver Taoufik was forced to pull off the road with damage before retiring.
The drama ahead therefore enabled both Jimmy Clairet and championship leader Mikel Azcona to make up a number of places by the end of the first lap, with Jimmy going on to finish third in the opening race of the weekend.
As for Azcona, who had found himself in third by the end of the opening lap, he would slide back down the order but ended up being involved in a close battle with Jack Young for the majority of the race.
Fourth in race one went to Langeveld, who had ended up battling with teammate Bennani in the middle of the race before the Moroccan driver ended up retiring with a puncture at the end of lap eight.
Bennani, who had been taking a different racing line to his rivals through the slower final sector of the lap at Paul Ricard, suffered a left front puncture and was forced into the pits as a result.
Bennani’s retirement now means Azcona extends his championship lead going into the second race of the weekend to 37 points.
With the top three drivers in comfortable positions on track, fourth went to Langeveld after his teammate’s drama late on.
Bennani’s issues also promoted Brutal Fish Racing driver Young up to fifth, while championship leader Azcona took sixth in the opening race of the weekend.
Seventh in race one was PSS Racing Team’s Franco Girolami, with Viktor Davidovski, Evgenii Leonov and Tom Coronel completing the top 10 in race one in France.
11th went to Martin Ryba in another of the Brutal Fish Racing Honda’s, although appeared to cut the corner at turn one on the final lap as he battled with Mat’o Homola, while Jachym Galas, Klim Garilov and the struggling Dušan Borković rounded out the top 15 positions.
|1||20||Teddy CLAIRET||Team Clairet Sport||Peugeot 308 TCR||10||22:27.473||2:13.912||1|
|2||44||Felice JELMINI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||10||4.012||2:13.793||3|
|3||21||Jimmy CLAIRET||Team Clairet Sport||Peugeot 308 TCR||10||5.531||2:14.195||7|
|4||10||Niels LANGEVELD||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||10||15.092||2:15.105||5|
|5||62||Jack YOUNG||Brutal Fish Racing Team||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||10||19.411||2:14.851||6|
|6||96||Mikel AZCONA||Volcano Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||10||19.596||2:15.289||8|
|7||72||Franco GIROLAMI||PSS Racing Team||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||10||20.386||2:15.385||9|
|8||110||Viktor DAVIDOVSKY||PSS Racing Team||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||10||21.301||2:15.434||10|
|9||32||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||10||25.223||2:15.586||13|
|10||16||Evgenii LEONOV||Volcano Motorsport||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||10||28.510||2:15.369||12|
|11||70||Mat’o HOMOLA||Janík Motorsport||Hyundai i30 N TCR||10||32.985||2:15.896||16|
|12||24||Jáchym GALÁŠ||Janík Motorsport||Hyundai i30 N TCR||10||33.207||2:16.007||17|
|13||14||Klim GAVRILOV||VRC-Team||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||10||33.685||2:16.160||20|
|14||162||Dušan BORKOVIĆ||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||10||34.417||2:16.252||19|
|15||8||Nicolas BAERT||Comtoyou Racing||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||10||37.258||2:16.828||15|
|16||17||Martin RYBA||Brutal Fish Racing Team||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||10||37.393||2:16.050||18|
|17||66||Gilles COLOMBANI||Team Clairet Sport||CUPRA TCR||10||37.588||2:16.474||21|
|18||250||Mehdi BENNANI||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||8||+ 2 LAPS||2:14.088||2|
|19||77||Sylvain PUSSIER||Team Clairet Sport||CUPRA TCR||8||+ 2 LAPS||2:16.896||14|
|R||26||Isidro CALLEJAS||Brutal Fish Racing Team||Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR||2||DNF||2:22.525||11|
|R||25||Sami TAOUFIK||Sébastien Loeb Racing||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||0||DNF||N/A||4|