Mikel Azcona dominates opening TCR Europe race at Spa-Francorchamps

Mikel Azcona took a dominating victory on his return to the TCR Europe series at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday evening.

Azcona, who competes this weekend having missed out on the previous round at Zanvdoort due to his ETCR commitments, grabbed the lead on the opening lap of the race and didn’t look back on his way to the win.

The Spaniard had started the race in fourth but made a fine start that saw him lie second after exiting the La Source hairpin, before he then was able to move ahead of Mehdi Bennani on the run up to Eau Rouge.

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Behind, Bennani held off Sébastien Loeb Racing teammates Felice Jelmini and Sami Taoufik in the opening race of the weekend.

Bennani simply couldn’t match the pace of race winner Azcona and had to settle for second place, despite the best efforts of pole sitter Jelmini behind to get ahead in the late stages of the race.

Fifth in race one went to former championship leader Franco Girolami.

The Argentinean driver managed to hold on to his race one position despite his PSS Racing Team Honda beginning to smoke badly late on with suspension damage.

Despite the damage getting worse towards the end of the final lap however, he managed to cross the finish line ahead of the ComtoYou Racing Audi of Nicolas Baert.

Teddy Clairet finished seventh in the leading Team Clairet Sport Peugeot, with Niels Langeveld, who had started race one in twelfth, Isidro Callejas and Tom Coronel completing the top 10.

The opening lap of the race saw the safety car deployed after several of the field had to avoid a spinning Martin Ryba as he lost his Brutal Fish Racing Honda coming out of Bruxelles after running closely with Niels Langeveld.

Both Sylvain Pussier and Jáchym Galáš were also involved and were collected as a result of them avoiding the Honda driver, with both forced to retire as a result.

Klim Gavrilov was also involved in the incident however was able to continue, and the race two pole sitter recovered to finish Friday’s race in 11th.

Jack Young, who had earlier crashed out in qualifying, couldn’t make up for his poor session and had a race to forget.

The Irish driver was another man to get involved in the incident with teammate Ryba although he was able to avoid any serious damage, but he would go on to suffer more problems later in the race.

After colliding with Evgenii Leonov at the entrance to the Campus chicane, it was then revealed he had dived up the inside of two cars under safety car conditions and was then given a penalty as a result.

Having then served his penalty, lap eight saw him retire from the race on the exit of Bruxelles after a mechanical issue.

Race two in Belgium takes place at 10:10 BST (11:10 CEST) on Saturday morning.

Race results

POS NO CL NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME GAP GD
1 96 Mikel AZCONA Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 10 28:00.936 2:31.171 4
2 250 Mehdi BENNANI Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 10 2.605 2:31.728 2
3 44 Felice JELMINI Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 10 4.977 2:31.788 1
4 25 Sami TAOUFIK Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 10 5.918 2:31.831 5
5 72 Franco GIROLAMI PSS Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 10 14.243 2:32.815 7
6 8 Nicolas BAERT Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 10 14.480 2:32.681 6
7 20 Teddy CLAIRET Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 10 15.747 2:32.577 8
8 10 Niels LANGEVELD Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR 10 15.792 2:31.910 12
9 26 Isidro CALLEJAS Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 10 19.963 2:33.398 9
10 32 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 10 20.618 2:33.638 11
11 14 Klim GAVRILOV VRC-Team Audi RS3 LMS TCR 10 21.139 2:33.187 10
12 162 Dušan BORKOVIĆ Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 10 25.215 2:33.516 16
13 21 Jimmy CLAIRET Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 TCR 10 26.583 2:32.904 15
14 70 Mat’o HOMOLA Janík Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR 10 31.812 2:33.237 3
15 16 Evgenii LEONOV Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 10 32.137 2:32.926 13
16 17 Martin RYBA Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 10 42.895 2:33.734 14
17 66 Gilles COLOMBANI Team Clairet Sport CUPRA TCR 10 49.583 2:36.713 18
18 62 Jack YOUNG Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 7 + 3 LAPS 2:32.715 20
R 77 Sylvain PUSSIER Team Clairet Sport CUPRA TCR 0 DNF N/A 17
R 24 Jáchym GALÁŠ Janík Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR 0 DNF N/A 19
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