The TCR Europe Trophy at the Adria International Raceway delivered an unexpected result, as Aurélien Comte was able to grab the title at the wheel of his DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308, the smallest car in the field with its 1.6 litre engine and standard bodywork.
Comte did not cross the line first in any of the two races that were won by Josh Files (Target Competion Honda Civic) and Gabriele Tarquini (BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N). And yet the young Frenchman benefited from the fact that Tarquini was not allowed to score points – because his car is still racing under a temporary homologation form – and that Files took what seemed to be an unnecessary risk in Race 2, which resulted in a penalty.
However, Comte was a worthy winner as he led the second race until halfway before surrendering to Tarquini and then he was able to keep Giacomo Altoè (Target Competition Honda Civic) at bay until the chequered flag.
They finished on equal points, but Comte was awarded the title thanks to his better results, while Files was classified third in the Trophy, only two points behind Comte and Altoè.
The Teams’ Trophy went to Target Competition; DG Sport Compétition was placed second, and is worth to remember that the Belgian outfit had already won last year’s TCR Europe Trophy with Pierre-Yves Corthals in an Opel Astra.
Today’s second race delivered a thrilling show, with six drivers involved in a close battle for the lead. And – most important – they were at the wheel of cars from five different brands: Hyundai, Peugeot, Honda, Audi and Volkswagen.
Race 1 – Files wins from Tarquini and Altoè
Josh Files took a great victory in Race 1 in the Target Competition Honda Civic; the Briton pipped pole sitter Gabriele Tarquini at the start and led from lights-to-flag. Tarquini was chasing him for most of the race, even knocking on the Honda’s rear bumper, but in the final laps the Hyundai driver lost contact from the leader and had to defend the second position from Files’ teammate Giacomo Altoè.
“I had a fantastic car. I took a great start and was able to keep Tarquini at bay. The old guy is still very quick and tough! He also hit me a few times,” said Files.
Aurélien Comte drove his Peugeot 308 home in fourth place, ahead of Antti Buri’s Audi that was closely followed by Maxime Potty’s Volkswagen Golf.
Luigi Ferrara kept the fourth position in the first half of the race in the V-Action Alfa Romeo Giulietta, but he was dropped by a drive-through penalty. “I don’t understand it, actually I was hit by Buri and sent wide,” complained the Italian.
Luca Engstler’s hope vanished because of a shifting problem that prevented him from taking a good start and eventually forced him back to the pits.
Giovanni Altoè won the DSG class in his Volkswagen Golf ahead of Sandro Pelatti in a similar car.
Grid – Kevin Giacon’s Opel Astra is missing following a turbocharger failure
Start – Files sprints to the lead ahead of Tarquini, Giacomo Altoè and Ferrara; Engstler and Kralev take a bad start
Lap 1 – Grigoriev is punted into a spin; Comte overtakes Buri for fifth
Lap 3 – Tarquini is chasing Files
Lap 4 – Giovanni Altoè overtakes Tolkachev for the lead of the DSG class
Lap 5 – Tarquini posts the fastest lap of 1:20.367
Lap 6 – Abreu overtakes Engstler for 9th; Pelatti overtakes Tolkachev for 2nd of DSG
Lap 7 – Giovanni Altoè overtakes Engstler for 10th
Lap 9 – Ferrara who was 4th, observes a drive-through for trespassing the track limits at Turn 2 and rejoins in 11th position
Lap 11 – Giovanni Altoè and Abreu swap positions while fightin for 8th
Lap 12 – Engstler slows down and pits
Lap 13 – Cappellari pits with a flat tyre
Lap 14 – Ferrara overtakes Abreu for 9th
Lap 15 – Dionisio overtakes Kralev for 13th
Lap 16 – Pelatti overtakes Abreu for 10th
Lap 17 – Files pulls away from Tarquini and Giacomo Altoè
Lap 18 – Abreu goes straight on T3 and then observes a drive-through for track limits
Lap 19 – Kangas and Tolkachev make contact but continue
Lap 20 – Files wins from Tarquini and Giacomo Altoè; Comte finishes fourth; Giovanni Altoè ranks 8th overall and wins the DSG class; Kangas hits Tolkachev who spins and drops to 14th
Race 2 – Tarquini wins, but Comte is the champion
In a breathtaking second race, Gabriele Tarquini claimed victory at the wheel of his BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N, but Aurélien Comte in the Peugeot 308 finished second and scored the 25 points for the TCR Europe Trophy.
This was enough for him to grab the European title.
Starting from tenth of the reverse grid, Tarquini put in a great show to recover and managed to take the lead in the ninth of the 20 laps. It was not an easy task, because the fight for the lead saw a close battle between Comte, Antti Buri (LMS Racing Audi) and Maxime Potty (WRT Volkswagen), while the Target Competition duo of Josh Files and Giacomo Altoè was chasing the Hyundai.
Eventually, Tarquini used all his experience to overtake Comte, while Files took a risk to pass Potty and Buri, which he paid dearly. In fact, he was given a penalty that spoiled his chances of winning the trophy.
With Tarquini well ahead, Comte and Giacomo Altoè had a close fight for the second place that was worth the title. They finished in the order and on equal points, but Comte was crowned the champion for the better results (third and first, against Altoè’s two second places).
Giovanni Altoè took a second victory in the DSG class and won the special trophy, while Target Competition won the Teams’ Trophy.
Start – Thoma starts well from pole, but Comte overtakes him at Turn 1
Lap 1 – Buri, Potty and Ferrara overtake Thoma who drops to fifth; Thoma retakes fourth from Ferrara
Lap 2 – Tarquini and Files climb to fifth and sixth ahead of Ferrara and Giacomo Altoè
Lap 4 – Tarquini and Files overtake Thoma for fourth and fifth
Lap 5 – Tarquini joins the leading trio of Comte, Buri and Potty
Lap 6 – Giacomo Altoè overtakes Thoma for sixth; Pelatti overtakes Tolkachev for 2nd in the DSG class
Lap 7 – The top five – Comte, Buri, Potty, Tarquini and Files – are covered by 1.8 seconds
Lap 8 – Tarquini overtakes Potty for third
Lap 9 – Tarquini overtakes Buri for second
Lap 10 – Files dives inside Potty at Turn 1, but hits Buri who spins and retires
Lap 11 – Tarquini takes the lead from Comte who is chased by Files; Giacomo Altoè overtakes Potty for fourth
Lap 12 – Dionisio overtakes Tolkachev for third in DSG
Lap 13 – Files overtakes Comte for second
Lap 14 – Files is given a drive-through for his incident with Buri and rejoins in 9th position
Lap 16 – Files overtakes Engstler for 8th
Lap 17 – Kralev stops on the track with a technical issue
Lap 18 – Files overtakes Abreu for 7th
Lap 19 – Comte defends his second position from Giacomo Altoè
Lap 20 – Tarquini wins the race, Comte keeps Giacomo Altoè at bay for second, Potty is fourth ahead of Thoma and Ferrara; Giovanni Altoè wins again in the DSG class
Drivers’ quotes after the two races
Aurélien Comte (1st in the TCR Europe): “The car is still lacking something in terms of performance, but it has really good race pace so I was not surprised to have been running at the front in the race. I had planned to make the best start I could and create a gap at the front. It was quite difficult at the end of the race to keep Giacomo Altoè behind, but in the end everything was OK and we took the title.”
Giacomo Altoè (2nd in the TCR Europe): “I’m very happy with the result, although I am also a little bit disappointed too. As Aurélien and I finished on the same points, but he won the race so he became the champion. It was a really tough second race and I have to overtake a lot of cars, but at the same time I didn’t want to take too many risks. Even so, it was still a good race for me. I asked the team on the radio about the points and they said that I was leading, so I could stay in 2nd place. If I’d known, I could have tried to overtake.”
Josh Files (3rd in TCR Europe and winner of Race 1): “I believe my move at Turn 1 in Race 2 was a calculated risk. I actually made the apex, but it was just unfortunate that Antti Buri turned in. But, this is motorsport – I didn’t come here to finish 2nd and just score points. I came here to win races. My goal was to get past Comte, which I did and then the team told me I had a drive through penalty, because I wanted to hunt down Tarquini for the win. I remember meeting Gabriele when I was three years old, in 1994 when he was racing in the BTCC. Not only did I get to race against him but also beat him in Race 1, so overall I’m very happy with the weekend.”
Gabriele Tarquini (winner of Race 2): “It wasn’t a bad weekend for us at all! I enjoyed it a lot and had the chance to experience lots of different types of tyres. It was a tough race, the Honda is very fast car and they did a great job to make the best starts. Even if I had a small problem, I still found it pretty tough to overtake Files. I tried to push as hard as possible during the race, but without any mistake from him it was impossible for me to overtake in Race 1. The second race was much more fun because by starting 10th, I had some great fights and overtaking with the other cars. Even though it wasn’t easy to take the win, I definitely enjoyed it.”
Giovanni Altoè (1st in the DSG class): “I think I made a very good start in the race. For me it was the first time I’ve raced and started a TCR car, so I didn’t know how to do it properly. Fortunately I was more consistent in the race, I managed to look after my tyres better and make the move for the lead. I’m very happy to finish so well with a lot of the sequential gearbox cars behind me, so it was very nice for me to score a good result.”
Press release TCR Europe Series