TCR International Series: Morbidelli and Nash winners at Circuit Estoril
Gianni Morbidelli and James Nash shared the winners’ trophies at Circuito Estoril, Portugal, in the second round of the 2016 TCR International Series. Italian veteran in the West Coast Racing’s Honda Civic has won the first race while 30-year-old British driver of Craft-Bamboo Lukoil’s Seat Leon celebrated after the second race.
Defending TCR champion Stefano Comini was on the podium in both races. In Race 1 he finished third behind Morbidelli and Leopard Racing teammate Jean-Karl Vernay. In Race 2 Comini was between Nash and Morbidelli.
The TCR rookie Mato Homola was the fastest man in the qualifying, securing pole position for B3 Racing’s Seat Leon. In the opening lap, Homola lost the first place from Morbidelli but retook the lead on Lap 2. After that, Homola was leading until Lap 12 when he lost two places from Morbidelli and Vernay. Next who passed the Slovakian driver was Stefano Comini on Lap 13 and after that, there were no more changes on the top.
The Craft-Bamboo Lukoil duo of Sergey Afanasyev and James Nash took 5th and 6th. They were followed by Aku Pellinen (West Coast Racing) and Pepe Oriola (Craft-Bamboo Lukoil). On his return to the series, Loris Hezemans finished ninth, ahead of his Baporo Motorsport teammate and local hero Francisco Mora. Dušan Borković, who heavily crashed during qualifying, gets repaired car for the race and started from the back of the grid. He progressed to 10th but eventually finished 12th.
In the second race, Hezemans started from pole, due to reversed grid, but he lost the lead immediately at the start and he stopped during the opening lap. James Nash jumped in front of others and stayed there until the end. Nobody compromised his lead and Nash won with comfortable advantage ahead of Stefano Comini.
Until Lap 11 two Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golfs were following Nash, but then Vernay lost the pace and both Gianni Morbidelli and Sergey Afanasyev overtook him. Aku Pelline again earned valuable points in sixth place, ahead of Davit Kajaia, Mato Homola, Francisco Mora and Pepe Oriola.
The winner of both races in the opening round at Bahrain was struggling in both races and he lost the lead in the championship standings. After four races Oriola is third with 56 points. Morbidelli jumped to the top with 70 points, James Nash is just one point down.