TCR International Series: Comini and Grachev winners at Imola
Stefano Comini in the Leopard Racing’s Volkswagen Golf and Mikhail Grachev in the West Coast Racing’s Honda Civic are the winners of two TCR International Series races at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari at Imola. For defending TCR champion Stefano Comini it was the first victory since he changed the team and the car. For Russian driver Grachev, it was his first ever TCR victory.
The Poleman Morbidelli retired after a crash with teammate
The Italian veteran Gianni Morbidelli (West Coast Racing) secured the pole position at his home track. He started well and defended his lead in the opening lap, against attacking Comini. On Lap 5 Morbidelli had the power-steering problems and he suddenly slowed down before the Variante.
Morbidelli’s Honda Civic was hit by another West Coast Civic of the guest driver Alain Menu and both cars retired from the race. The safety car was deployed while the track was cleaned. At the restart, Comini was the leader and he stayed in front until the end. Behind his back, Pepe Oriola stole the second place from Davit Kajaia and after that the podium positions remained unchanged.
Dramatic end of the duel Borkovic – Vernay
Mikhail Grachev was fourth until Lap 11,when he made a mistake and dropped to ninth. Jordi Gene, who returned to the TCR in the Engstler’s VW Golf, was next to make a mistake and he dropped from fourth to seventh, handing the fourth place to Sergey Afanasyev. Dusan Borkovic and Jean-Karl Vernay was fighting hard for fifth and they collided on the penultimate lap. The Serbian driver spun off into the gravel, losing all the points, while Vernay dropped to sixth, behind Mato Homola.
Except veterans Alain Menu and Jordi Gene, who was driving for the first time this season, the other new drivers were two Italian beauties Carlotta Fedeli and Alessandra Neri, in the B.D. Racing’s Seat Leons. Fedeli even scored a point after a bunch of drivers retired in the Race 1. James Nash, one of the championship leaders, retired early because of engine failure and didn’t start the in the Race 2.
Dusan Borkovic and Sergey Afanasiyev also didn’t start the Race 2. Borkovic even didn’t come to the grid while Afanasyev retired during the warming up lap. The young Hungarian Attila Tassi in the B3 Racing’s Seat Leon had a pole position for the Race 2, but he immediately lost the lead at the start from Jordi Gene.
On Lap 4 Grachev overtook Gene for the lead. After that, the Spaniard dramatically slowed down and dropped to sixth. Behind Grachev, who was driving Honda Civic for the first time, Mato Homola resisted to attacks and took the second place, which is his best result so far in the TCR. Pepe Oriola was in the third position for much of the race but in the penultimate lap both Leopard Racing Volkswagens overtook him. Stefano Comini finished on the podium, Vernay was fourth.