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Franco Girolami opens TCR Europe season with Vallelunga victory

Franco Girolami was victorious in the opening race of the 2024 TCR Europe season at Vallelunga, the 2022 champion scoring a comfortable lights-to-flag win.

Girolami had qualified his new CUPRA Leon VZ TCR on pole position on Friday evening, and the Argentine enjoyed the perfect start to his campaign with a controlled drive to his seventh win in the series.

At the start, Girolami got away well, as behind him Comtoyou Racing’s Nicola Baldan jumped from fourth on the grid to immediately pressure SP Compétition’s Aurélien Comte for second.

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However, Comte held his line into the Turn 4 braking zone, leaving Baldan to slot into third, as at the back of the pack Dušan Borković stalled his GOAT Racing Honda and dropped to a distant last.

At the front, Girolami gradually eased clear of fellow CUPRA racer Comte, who seemingly had little answer to the Argentine’s pace.

Girolami thus went on to win, with Comte a second and a half back in second.

Baldan crossed the line in third, but the Italian missed out on the podium after receiving a five-second time penalty for track limits exceedances.

That promoted ALM Motorsport’s Ignacio Montenegro into third, giving the young Argentine a podium finish on his TCR Europe début.

Baldan was fourth, ahead of ALM’s Ruben Volt in fifth. However, for the latter, it was an eventful race. Volt had been in ninth at the end of the opening lap, but the young Estonian fought past Felipe Fernández for eighth by the end of lap four.

Volt then followed his team-mate Levente Losonczy past Viktor Davidovski’s CUPRA for seventh a lap later, gaining a place when Losonczy ran wide through the final corner and gave away four places.

On lap eight, Volt was controversially involved in a clash with Rubén Fernández’s Honda going into Turn 7, which cost Fernández four places, whilst Volt assumed fifth.

Volt was penalised with a five-second time penalty for the incident, but it did not cost him a place, as by the chequered flag Felipe Fernández in sixth was too far back to gain.

After his stall, Borković recovered to a fine seventh, ahead of Macedonian Davidovski in eighth.

The top ten was completed by those involved in the earlier incidents, with Rubén Fernández in ninth and Losonczy in tenth.

SP Compétition’s Giovanni Scamardi and MA:GP’s Viktor Andersson completed the order, the latter having dropped from sixth on the grid to the back of the field gradually over the course of the opening lap.

Race two is scheduled to get underway at 15:15 CEST (14:15 BST) on Sunday.

Race results

1 72 Franco GIROLAMI Monlau Motorsport CUPRA Leon VZ TCR 15 25:34.353 1:41.493 1
2 7 Aurélien COMTE SP Compétition CUPRA Leon VZ TCR 15 1.489 1:41.589 3
3 23 Ignacio MONTENEGRO ALM Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR 15 7.942 1:41.790 2
4 8 Nicola BALDAN Baldan Group by Comtoyou Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 15 9.320 1:41.607 4
5 27 Ruben VOLT ALM Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR 15 17.668 1:41.756 12
6 19 Felipe FERNÁNDEZ Gil GOAT Racing Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR 15 19.822 1:42.275 9
7 62 Dušan BORKOVIĆ GOAT Racing Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR 15 20.069 1:41.996 10
8 110 Viktor DAVIDOVSKI Monlau Motorsport CUPRA Leon VZ TCR 15 21.818 1:42.435 8
9 11 Rubén FERNÁNDEZ GIL GOAT Racing Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR 15 26.251 1:42.993 5
10 64 Levente LOSONCZY ALM Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR 15 29.547 1:42.641 7
11 34 Giovanni SCAMARDI SP Compétition CUPRA Leon VZ TCR 15 30.927 1:42.976 11
12 10 Viktor ANDERSSON MA:GP Lynk & Co 03 TCR 15 37.845 1:43.291 6
NS 21 Eric GENÉ Casanovas Monlau Motorsport CUPRA Leon VZ TCR DNS N/A
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