BRC Racing’s Mikel Azcona won an exciting opening race of the TCR World Tour and TCR South America race weekend at La Pedrera, which was affected by slippery conditions and safety car interventions.
Cyan Racing’s Yann Ehrlacher had earlier in the day claimed pole position with a continuation of his sublime single-lap pace, but at the start he was beaten to the first corner by the Hyundai of Norbert Michelisz.
Comtoyou Racing’s Rob Huff also got by the Lynk & Co driver on the run to the first corner, but Ehrlacher was quickly back into second by the exit of the turn.
As Ehrlacher then attacked Michelisz for the lead at the first chicane he went too deep, allowing Huff to come back and pass for second.
Huff then thumped Michelisz exiting Turn 8, which seemed to impede Michelisz, dropping the Hungarian to fourth as Huff took the lead with Ehrlacher and Azcona in tow.
There was just one lap of racing before the safety car came out for the first time to recover the stricken PMO Motorsport Lynk & Co of Matías Milla.
Also retiring at the end of the first lap was W2 Pro GP’s Raphael Reis, who pitted with a technical issue, whilst Cyan Racing’s Santiago Urrutia, who had started down in 24th after an engine change penalty, also pulled off on lap two with a technical issue and Squadra Martino’s Enrique Maglione pitted with front-end damage to his Honda.
Racing resumed on lap six, with Huff opening up an advantage at the front, whilst Néstor Girolami passed Michelisz for fourth at the restart, although the Argentine lost the place further around the same lap.
Frédéric Vervisch, who dropped to tenth at the start, appeared to claim two places into Turn 1 on lap seven, leaping the Toyotas of Fabián Yannantuoni and Bernardo Llaver for sixth, but after running wide on the exit he then dropped back four places.
Azcona claimed second from Ehrlacher on lap seven, with Michelisz following through into third a couple of corners later, before Girolami then demoted Ehrlacher to fifth.
Huff had gone onto lap eight with a lead of a second and a half, but Azcona slashed that margin in less than a lap to put the Brit under heavy pressure for the race lead.
After sniffing around numerous times on lap nine, Azcona’s charge was halted then a second safety car period was called for when Girolami stopped his Honda on track, with an apparent engine issue.
Neutralising the race with five minutes left on the clock, with two minutes to go the flashing lights on the safety car had been turned off, implying a restart, with the safety car in fact staying out on track for another lap.
This caused some confusion, whilst Vervisch also darted for the pits to retire with an issue on his Audi.
With the clock run down to zero behind the safety car, there was only time for one more lap of racing, meaning only half of the entire distance had been spent racing.
The final lap saw Huff try in vain to hold off Azcona, the Brit making a mistake under braking into Turn 8 when he hit a puddle and ran wide, dropping him behind both Hyundais.
Azcona went on to claim his first TCR World Tour win ahead of Michelisz, with Huff just about clinging on to the final podium place ahead of Ma.
Yannantuoni was the winner in TCR South America with fifth overall, ahead of Ehrlacher in sixth.
Paladini Racing’s Juan Ángel Rosso took seventh, ahead of fellow Toyota racer Bernardo Llaver in eighth.
The top ten was completed by the Squadra Martino Honda of TCR South America points leader Ignacio Montenegro and Scuderia Chiarelli’s Pedro Cardoso.
Four of the nine TCR World Tour regulars failed to finish, with Thed Björk also retiring his Cyan Lynk & co after six laps having run in sixth early on.
|1||196||WT||Mikel AZCONA||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||12||29:27.958||3|
|2||105||WT||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||12||1.131||2|
|3||179||WT||Rob HUFF||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||Audi RS3 LMS TCR II||12||1.638||4|
|4||155||WT||MA Qing Hua||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 FL TCR||12||2.128||5|
|5||5||SA||Fabián YANNANTUONI||Paladini Racing||Toyota Corolla GRS TCR||12||3.102||10|
|6||168||WT||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 FL TCR||12||3.904||1|
|7||2||SA||Juan Ángel ROSSO||Paladini Racing||Toyota Corolla GRS TCR||12||4.725||13|
|8||17||SA||Bernardo LLAVER||Toyota Team Argentina||Toyota Corolla GRS TCR||12||6.171||11|
|9||23||SA||Ignacio MONTENEGRO||Squadra Martino||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||12||6.888||15|
|10||43||SA||Pedro CARDOSO||Scuderia Chiarelli||Hyundai Elantra N TCR||12||7.395||8|
|11||86||SA||Esteban GUERRIERI||Bratton Tito Bessone Team||Toyota Corolla GRS TCR||12||7.895||18|
|12||24||SA||Frederick BALBI||PMO Motorsport||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||12||10.156||19|
|13||28||SA||Galid OSMAN||W2 Pro GP||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||12||10.249||16|
|14||70||SA||Diego NUNES||Cobra Racing Team||Toyota Corolla GRS TCR||12||13.160||14|
|15||33||SA||José Manuel SAPAG||Toyota Team Argentina||Toyota Corolla GRS TCR||12||13.266||17|
|16||60||SA||Juan Manuel CASELLA||Squadra Martino||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||12||16.948||20|
|17||10||SA||Adalberto BAPTISTA||Cobra Racing Team||Toyota Corolla GRS TCR||12||22.551||23|
|18||34||SA||Fabio CASAGRANDE||Squadra Martino||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||12||1:13.682||22|
|R||122||WT||Frédéric VERVISCH||Audi Sport Team Comtoyou||Audi RS3 LMS TCR II||10||DNF||7|
|R||129||WT||Néstor GIROLAMI||Squadra Martino Racing||Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR||8||DNF||9|
|R||111||WT||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 FL TCR||6||DNF||6|
|R||112||WT||Santiago URRUTIA||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 FL TCR||2||DNF||24|
|R||15||SA||Enrique MAGLIONE||Squadra Martino||Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR||2||DNF||21|
|R||77||SA||Raphael REIS||W2 Pro GP||CUPRA Leon Competición TCR||1||DNF||25|
|R||22||SA||Matías MILLA||PMO Motorsport||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||0||DNF||12|