Last-lap mistake from Franco Girolami hands Isidro Callejas maiden win

Volcano Motorsport’s Isidro Callejas won his first race in TCR Europe at Spa-Francorchamps, after race-long leader Franco Girolami made a mistake on the final lap of the race.

At the start, pole-sitter Girolami moved into a clear lead, as Klim Gavrilov, who had started alongside on the front row, made a poor start in his CUPRA.

That allowed Callejas to leap into second, whilst Target Competition’s Josh Files, from sixth on the grid, immediately fived for the inside line at the La Source hairpin and claimed third.

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Thereafter, the order looked to be set, despite a two-lap safety car period at the end of the opening lap to clear up the stricken Audi of Rubén Fernández, who had come together with Martin Ryba’s Honda.

Girolami was never more than around half a second in front of Callejas throughout the rest of the race, and on the final lap the Argentine made a mistake at Les Combes.

Locking up slightly, Girolami went wide and cut the corner, gifting the lead to Callejas, who held on for the rest of the lap to claim his first win in TCR Europe – in the process becoming the youngest winner in the series’ history at just 17 years old.

Girolami and Callejas were just under four seconds clear of Files by this stage, meaning the Argentine was able to hold on to finish second.

Files completed the podium, the Hyundai driver having seemingly no answer to the pace of the leading duo as he gradually fell back over the course of the race.

Nicola Baldan moved ahead of Gavrilov at the start, but also lost out to team-mate Files. Thereafter, the Target driver held station in fourth, unchallenged behind as he circulated largely in clear air.

Comtoyou Racing’s Tom Coronel gained two places at the start and then sat behind Gavrilov for several laps. When Felice Jelmini went wide at the first corner following the restart, Coronel moved up to sixth, and he found a way past Gavrilov for fifth on the penultimate lap, having applied pressure to the CUPRA driver throughout the race.

Gavrilov took sixth, ahead of the recovering Jelmini – who had dropped to eighth briefly – in seventh.

Halder Motorsport’s Jack Young was eighth, the Northern Irishman struggling to make gains in the race and unable to capitalise on Jelmini’s mistake, despite briefly being in front.

Indeed Young was under heavy pressure from behind, and on lap seven he was hit by the Hyundai of Jáchym Galáš at Les Combes, although he held the slide. Young prevailed to end the race as the best-placed Honda driver.

The top ten was completed by Galáš, who has pole for race two, and Volcano Motorsport’s Evgenii Leonov, the latter after a mistake from Viktor Davidovski, who ran wide through the gravel.

John Filippi looked set for a top ten finish, the Sébastien Loeb Racing driver having run in ninth with three laps to go. But on lap eight he went through the gravel and dropped to 12th, taking the chequered flag just behind Davidovski.

As well as Rubén Fernández, the two Brutal Fish Racing Hondas of Pepe Oriola and Martin Ryba retired on the opening lap. Oriola was knocked into the gravel on the exit of the first corner, whilst Ryba came together with Fernández and picked up damage.

Mat’o Homola retired to the pits after six laps with an issue on his Hyundai.

Race two is scheduled to get underway at 11:35 CEST (10:35 BST) on Sunday.

Race result

POS NO CL NAT DRIVER ENTRANT CAR LAPS TIME BEST GD
1 26 Isidro CALLEJAS Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 10 29:20.887 2:32.620 3
2 72 Franco GIROLAMI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 10 1.606 2:32.492 1
3 99 Josh FILES Target Motorsport Hyundai Elantra N TCR 10 3.866 2:32.643 6
4 8 Nicola BALDAN Target Competition Hyundai Elantra N TCR 10 4.363 2:33.147 4
5 33 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 10 9.964 2:34.153 9
6 14 Klim GAVRILOV Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 10 11.95 2:34.389 2
7 44 Felice JELMINI Target Competition Hyundai Elantra N TCR 10 12.462 2:34.309 5
8 62 Jack YOUNG Halder Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 10 17.384 2:34.588 7
9 24 Jáchym GALÁŠ Janík Motorsport Hyundai Elantra N TCR 10 18.777 2:34.526 10
10 16 Evgenii LEONOV Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 10 20.407 2:34.893 16
11 110 Viktor DAVIDOVSKI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 10 23.695 2:35.514 15
12 27 John FILIPPI Sébastien Loeb Racing – Bardahl Team CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 10 24.250 2:34.874 11
13 7 Mike HALDER Halder Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 10 24.717 2:35.655 13
14 19 Felipe FERNÁNDEZ Gil RC2 Junior Team CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 10 25.175 2:35.053 20
15 111 Marco BUTTI Élite Motorsport by Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 10 26.311 2:34.956 14
16 53 Michelle HALDER Halder Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 10 30.073 2:35.847 18
17 37 Sergio LÓPEZ RC2 Junior Team CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 10 34.478 2:35.949 22
18 3 Giacomo GHERMANDI Lema Racing CUPRA Leon Competición TCR 10 35.714 2:36.413 17
R 70 Mat’o HOMOLA Janík Motorsport Hyundai Elantra N TCR 6 DNF 2:35.372 8
R 17 Martin RYBA Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 1 DNF 3:06.213 21
R 74 Pepe ORIOLA Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR 1 DNF 3:49.616 12
R 12 Rubén FERNÁNDEZ Gil RC2 Junior Team Audi RS3 LMS TCR 2021 0 DNF N/A 19
NS 46 Caren BURTON Burton Racing Peugeot 308 TCR WDR N/A
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