Rodrigo Baptista moves into championship lead with second win

Rodrigo Baptista moved to the top of the TCR South America standings with a second victory at El Pinar, as erstwhile points leader Pepe Oriola retired from the race with suspension failure.

Cobra Racing’s Baptista had started the reverse-grid race from tenth on the grid, but by the first corner the Audi driver was already up to sixth.

At the front of the field, PMO Motorsport’s Pablo Otero lead the pack away from pole position, as his team-mate Cyro Fontes shot from fourth up to second, with Oriola assuming third.

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Oriola then moved into second at the end of the back straight on the opening lap with a well-judged move on Fontes, and two laps later he passed Otero for the lead at the same corner.

However, Oriola’s lead would last just two laps as the Honda driver’s suspension failed heading up to the final corner on lap five, taking him out of the race.

That gave Baptista the lead, as he had just one corner earlier passed Otero for then-second, having worked his way past José Manuel Sapag two laps earlier as Oriola took the lead, and then Fontes just one corner later.

Baptista then began to open up a comfortable lead, until a mid-race safety car period was needed when Raphael Reis and Fontes made contact heading onto the back straight, pitching Fontes’ Lynk & Co heavily into the barriers, whilst Reis had to pit for repairs.

Baptista managed the restart well two laps later to pull clear of Otero and Rodrigo Pflucker, the latter having worked his Hyundai past Sapag for third just before the safety car.

Little changed at the front in the final laps as Baptista opened up a near ten-second margin over Otero, whilst Pflucker threw away a podium place four laps from the end when he went wide at the penultimate corner, giving Sapag third.

Hyundai racer Pflucker took the chequered flag in fourth, ahead of Reis’ W2 Racing Honda in fifth and PropCar Racing’s Diego Martinez in sixth.

Gonzalo Reilly was a lap down in seventh, the Squadra Martino Honda driver having gone off on the opening lap and ended up a lap down, whilst Adalberto Baptista was eighth, a lap down after being forced to make a pitstop.

Rodrigo Baptista now leads the standings with 154 points ahead of Oriola (146), Reis (107), Adalberto Baptista (73) and Sapag (63).

Race result

1 13 Rodrigo BAPTISTA Cobra Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 21 34:05.822 1:32.022 10
2 30 Pablo OTERO PMO Motorsport Lynk & Co 03 TCR 21 9.447 1:33.749 1
3 33 José Manuel SAPAG Squadra Martino Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 21 9.891 1:32.820 6
4 47 Rodrigo PFLUCKER Perú Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR 21 17.187 1:32.653 9
5 77 Raphael REIS W2 Racing Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 21 22.144 1:32.421 8
6 38 Diego MARTINEZ PropCar Racing Team Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR 21 40.717 1:34.236 11
7 155 Gonzalo REILLY Squadra Martino Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 20 + 1 LAP 1:33.655 3
8 10 Adalberto BAPTISTA Cobra Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 16 + 5 LAPS 1:33.947 2
R 52 Cyro FONTES PMO Motorsport Lynk & Co 03 TCR 9 DNF 1:33.742 4
R 74 Pepe ORIOLA W2 Racing Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR 5 DNF 1:32.910 7
NS 60 Juan Manuel CASELLA Squadra Martino Honda Civic Type-R FK2 TCR DNS N/A 5
NS 25 Ayrton CHORNE PropCar Racing Team Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR DNS N/A 12
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