CUPRA’s Mikel Azcona remained unbeaten in the second day of the PURE ETCR event at MotorLand Aragón, as the Spaniard won his Round 2 battle and then topped the time trial shootout at the end of the day.
Saturday’s sessions saw six two-car battles (one for each of the series’ 12 drivers) followed by the single-lap time trial at the end of the day, which effectively acts as the qualifying session for Sunday’s six-car SuperFinals.
Round 2 – Head-to-head battles
After winning their respective Pool A battles on Friday, Rodrigo Baptista and Mikel Azcona went head-to-head in the first on-track action on Saturday morning.
The CUPRA driver pulled clear at the start and then kept the Alfa Romeo of Baptista behind by just enough of a margin throughout their five-lap duel to win, Azcona using his power-up whenever Baptista did so in order to defend his lead.
The battle of the second-placed finishers from Pool A on Friday saw Hyundai’s Augusto Farfus take on CUPRA’s Jordi Gené.
Farfus held the lead at the start and managed to keep Gené at bay for the race, save for a late lunge by the Spaniard on the fourth lap at the first turn, when he outbraked himself and gave Farfus the lead straight back.
The Brazilian thus took his first battle win of the weekend, having been the fastest driver of all on raw pace a day previous.
The final Pool A battle was between the Alfa Romeo of Stefano Coletti and the Hyundai of Tom Chilton.
In the early stages Coletti led the Brit, despite a love tap at the hairpin on the first lap, but on lap four the Monegasque driver gifted the lead to Chilton when he outbraked himself at the hairpin, giving Chilton a power-up-free pass.
Coletti immediately came back past Chilton heading onto the final lap, but at the hairpin Chilton used his power-up to draw alongside and make a clean pass for the lead, going on to claim the win – his first battle win in ETCR.
Friday winners John Filippi took on Mattias Ekström went head-to-head first in Pool B, with the Swede assuming the lead at the start.
Although Filippi came close to a pass on lap four, in the end CUPRA racer Ekström did enough to manage the gap and boost at just the right time to defeat the Hyundai driver in the battle.
Jean-Karl Vernay should have taken on Luca Filippi in the battle of the second-place drivers, but the Hyundai failed to leave the pits, leaving Filippi’s Alfa Romeo to contest the battle alone in a five-lap lonely tour of the circuit in order to claim the points.
Vernay put his non-start down to a suspected driveshaft failure, with his car having made a conspicuous bang when leaving the pit garage.
Battle three pitted Oliver Webb against Dániel Nagy, and the Alfa Romeo driver was ahead into the first corner after using just enough power-up to claim the lead.
Nagy blasted past Webb for the lead going onto lap three with the use of his power-up, but the Brit fought back in traditional fashion at Turn 2, unable to retake the lead despite light contact.
A thrilling battle continued into the final lap, as Webb battled past Nagy through the first turns to take the lead, only for Nagy to seemingly re-take the lead at the hairpin.
However, the Hungarian went in too hot and outbraked himself, leaving the door open for Romeo Ferraris racer Webb to claim the battle win and leave Nagy as the only driver in the 12-strong field yet to claim a battle win this year.
The day’s track action concluded with the single-lap time trials, akin to a traditional quality session, which determine the grid for Sunday’s six-car Pool A and B shootouts respectively.
Azcona continued his dominance to top the pool A time trial, held over the full Grand Prix circuit, with a lap of 1 minute 58.514 seconds, putting his CUPRA a huge 0.750 seconds clear of Hyundai’s Farfus at Spaniard Azcona’s home circuit.
Farfus was the only driver within a second of the pace, whilst Romeo Ferraris’ Baptista continued his strong performance on Saturday by posting the third best time.
Gené put his CUPRA in fourth, two seconds slower than his much younger team-mate, with Coletti and Chilton completing the six car group, the latter almost three and a half seconds off the pace.
Pool B saw Vernay’s repaired Hyundai top the times with a lap of 1:59.196, six tenths slower than Azcona, although the gap is largely irrelevant due to the two being in separate groups all weekend.
Luca Filippi was second in his Alfa Romeo, a mere 0.054 seconds adrift, ahead of the CUPRA of Ekström in third.
The session was more competitive in Pool B, with the top four covered by less than a second as Webb went fourth quickest.
The times were completed by Nagy’s CUPRA in fifth and Filippi’s Hyundai in sixth, the latter 1.9 seconds adrift.
Track action resumes on Sunday with the two six-car SuperFinals, the first of which takes place at 09:45 CEST (08:45 BST) followed by the Pool B SuperFinal at 16:00 CEST (15:00 BST).