The half-season mark was rounded at Oschersleben, where the TCR International Series offered two action-packed races, that the changing weather conditions were made even livelier. The main take-away of the weekend is that, after three winless events, the SEAT León cars took a double victory and monopolized the podium positions.
It was an emotional Race 1 for Mat’o Homola, as the young Slovak took his maiden win in the series, while Race 2 allowed Pepe Oriola to go back to the highest spot of the podium that he hadn’t visited since the season-opener in Bahrain. Both Dušan Borković and James Nash collected a double podium finish, which in the case of the Serbian means breaking a string of frustrating results. His and Homola’s harvest of heavy points also meant that B3 Racing Hungary is now a brilliant second in the Teams’ standings behind Craft-Bamboo Lukoil.
Oriola has also regained the lead in the Drivers’ Championship, although being on equal points with his teammate Nash, who proved again his consistency by taking two third places.
Homola is now only four points behind the duo, while Stefano Comini, Gianni Morbidelli and Jean-Karl Vernay have had a more difficult weekend as they were involved in different race incidents. They all struggled to salvage a few points, and it is now clear that every single point will have its weight at the end of the season in such a close fight for the title.
The German rounds yielded more interesting news, as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta cars showed great progress in performance, way beyond Michela Cerruti’s P9 in Race 2, while some of the youngest guns of the series, like Attila Tassi (7th in Race 2) and Niklas Mackschin (who finished 9th and a 8th) put some strong showings in the close fights that delighted the fans.
The TCR International Series will resume on July 2 and 3 at Sochi, Russia, for rounds 13 and 14.
Race 1 – Mat’o Homola claims his maiden win
After dominating yesterday’s Qualifying, B3 Racing Team’s Dušan Borković and Mat’o Homola swapped positions in the first race and gave B3 Racing Team its first victory in the TCR International Series.
Although he was able to exploit his pole position, Borković made a couple of mistake that dropped him behind his teammate. Homola had a spotless race and managed to keep his competitors at bay, with James Nash, Sergey Afanasyev and Antti Buri crossing the line behind the B3 Racing duo.
In a race that was plenty of incidents and safety car interventions, Gianni Morbidelli and Pepe Oriola managed to survive, salvaging a seventh and tenth positions that might prove crucial in the title fight, while Stefano Comini was forced to retire.
The two Mulsanne Racing’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta cars were brilliantly running in seventh (Michela Cerruti) and eighth (Petr Fulín) when they were both stopped by mechanical failures in the final laps.
With these results, Homola is the new championship leader, Nash is second, one point behind; Oriola and Comini are on equal points, with a gap of 11 from the leader.
Start – Borković takes the lead from Nash and Homola
Lap 1 – a collision at T1 involves Grachev, Kajaia, Oriola, Comini and Afanasyev
Lap 2 – Homola and Buri overtake Nash who drops to fourth; Morbidelli goes wide and drops at the back
Lap 3 – Tassi spins off at Turn 2 while trying to overtake Comini; Borković makes a mistake and drops to third
Lap 4 – the safety car is deployed to recover Tassi’s car
Lap 6 – the race resumes, Homola leads from Buri, Borković, Nash, Vernay and Comini
Lap 7 – Comini passes Vernay for fifth; Oriola overtakes Afanasyev for seventh
Lap 8 – Morbidelli and Sheehan make contact, the American spins; Borković and Nash pass Buri who drops from second to fourth; the rain comes
Lap 9 – Borković makes a mistake and drops behind Nash and Buri
Lap 10 – Borković retakes third from Buri who is fighting with Comini
Lap 11 – Comini missed the braking point at T1 and drops to sixth behind Oriola; Oriola and Buri make contact, the former crashes into the tyre wall
Lap 12 – Comini stops in the run-off area at T1; Grachev spins and hits Comini car; the safety car is deployed again
Lap 15 – the race resumes once again; Morbidelli moves up to seventh overtaking Fulín and Cerruti; Fulín pits and retires
Lap 16 – Buri overtakes Vernay for fifth
Lap 17 – Cerruti stops on the track losing the eighth position
Lap 18 – Sheehan makes a mistake and gets stranded onto the grave trap
Lap 19 – Borković overtakes Nash for second; Homola wins from Borković, Nash, Afanasyev, Buri and Vernay
Race 2 – Pepe Oriola returns to victory
Craft-Bamboo Lukoil’s Pepe Oriola ended a three-month drought and returned to victory with a convincing performance that helped him to regain the championship lead, though on equal points with his teammate James Nash.
Dušan Borković and Nash encored their results from the first race and finished second and third once again.
Stefano Comini completed a brilliant recovery to sixth after an incident at the start and a tough but fair fight with the up-and-coming youngsters Attila Tassi and Niklas Mackschin.
Michela Cerruti was finally able to capitalize on the technical improvement made by the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and finished in a well-deserved ninth position .
Start – Kajaia makes good use of his pole and leads the field ahead of Oriola and Vernay
Lap 1 – once again there is a pile up at T1; Comini and Morbidelli clash and rejoin at the back; Fulín is also involved, then pits and retires
Lap 1 – Borković and Vernay make contact, the Serbian loses control and hits Homola but they manage to stay on the track; Vernay retires
Lap 2 – Oriola takes the lead from Kajaia; Homola misses the braking point at T1 and drops to sixth; Grachev and Buri make contact, the latter retires
Lap 3 – Oriola pulls away; Nash, Afanasyev and Homola have a tough fight over fourth position
Lap 5 – Tassi and Mackschin fight for seventh
Lap 7 – Borković and Nash are closing in on Kajaia
Lap 8 – Comini passes Cerruti for ninth
Lap 9 – Kajaia makes a mistake at T1 and loses second place to Borković
Lap 11 – Kajaia repeats the mistake at T1 and drops at the back
Lap 12 – Oriola controls Borković’s attempt to close the gap; Nash is third, chased by Afanasyev, Homola
Lap 14 – Tassi, Comini and Mackschin are in a close battle for sixth
Lap 15 – Comini steals sixth from Tassi with a clashing overtaking manoeuvre
Lap 17 – Oriola wins from Borković, Nash, Afanasyev and Homola; Cerruti claims ninth
Quotes from the podium finishers
Mat’o Homola (winner Race 1): “I got this first win I was looking for so hard, and I feel very happy about it. It’s a dream come true after seven years in touring car racing. I chose to do the TCR because it is an international series, and I think it was the right choice. The race was quite tough, as it was very wet in some portions of the track and conditions kept changing. On top, there were two safety car periods, which is always stressful, but I managed to control everything. Now I am also well positioned in the championship but things are too tight to make any prediction, I’ll take them step by step.”
Pepe Oriola (winner Race 2): “After a very bad weekend at Salzburgring because of technical problems, it is nice to be spared by bad luck. Still, Race 1 was quite eventful, as I was involved in two race incidents and even touched the barriers. Luckily, I could finish the race and damage was only cosmetic. In Race 2, I could avoid trouble at the start and passed Kajaia after a few laps. Then everything went fine and I focused mostly on saving my tyres in the closing laps. It’s nice to be back in the lead of the standings, although the title race is still very long. I’m on equal points with James, he is very consistent and being both in the same team, we share all the data, so it’s going to be a close fight, and I am sure that Morbidelli and Comini will also be part of it.”
Dušan Borković (second in both races): “Two seconds is a very good result, and most of all, it means I am again able to finish races! I really thought I could win Race 1. I took the lead and was trying to build a gap, but unfortunately I did a mistake in the rain, going wide and losing positions. I was able to charge back, although there was some more sliding, and Race 2 had a relatively similar scenario. I’m still wondering how I survived all that, but the good news is that we are back on the podium and that this time there isn’t additional work for the mechanics.”
James Nash (third in both races): “It was a positive weekend, with two good races, and it’s nice to be on equal points in the standings with Pepe, although he has more wins than I do. That’s what I need to do, try to win more often, but today, given the conditions, I really went for the points, trying to avoid overdoing and doing mistakes.”
TCR Germany: Files pips Zimmerman on last lap
Josh Files claimed his third victory of the season, the first after Target Competition switched from SEAT to Honda cars. The Briton emerged as the winner at the end of a thrilling race that ended with a six-car fight for the lead.
Everything was decided in the last lap, when Files and Bas Schouten pipped Tim Zimmermann who had led for most of the race after Antti Buri has been slowed down by electronics issues. With these results, Files regained the championship lead, five points ahead of Harald Proczyk.
The first lap was full of action, also because it began to rain while the drivers were on slicks; Buri took the lead from Zimmermann, Proczyk, Lautehschlager and Dablander. A mid-field incident involved Schamrl, Leuchter and Eberle; the latter’s car stopped in the middle of the track and forced the race director to deploy the safety car.
Soon after the race resumed, the leader Buri slowed down for a while and rejoined in 11th position. Zimmermann inherited the first place ahead of Files, Kirsch, Proczyk, Halder and Schouten.
The safety car was prompted again on lap 9 after Jordan’s car got stranded onto the gravel trap. When the race resumed Files and Kirsch made contact while fighting for second; Kirsch got the worst of it and retired.
Zimmermann was defending the lead from Files, Proczyk, Schouten, Buri and Halder; the six cars were covered by less than two seconds. On the last lap Files and Schouten managed to overtake Zimmermann and crossed the line in first and second, with Halder and Proczyk following in fourth and fifth.
The championship will resume on 23 and 24 July at the Red Bull Ring, in Austria, for rounds 7 and 8.