Hungary’s Daniel Nagy took a clean sweep at the opening round of the new TCR Europe SIM Racing series at the virtual circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. After setting the best time in the Practice session, the BRC Racing Team driver was fastest in Qualifying and then won both eight-lap races to take maximum points away from the first event in the series. Nagy also wins two Yokohama tyres to use in the opening round of the ‘real’ TCR Europe when racing restarts.
Nagy was quick to stamp his authority on Qualifying, setting a lap time of 2:26.009 on his first flying lap. He then immediately improved on that time with a 2:25.775 on the next lap, ahead of Bence Boldizs in the Zengõ Motorsport CUPRA (2:26.183) and the 2018 TCR Europe champion Mikel Azcona (2:26.295) in the PCR Sport CUPRA. Both Boldizs and Azcona then improved their lap times with a 2:26.090 and a 2:26.257 respectively, but with less than four minutes of the session remaining, Jimmy Clairet (Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308T) set a time of 2:26.107 to edge ahead of Azcona. Nicolas Baert (Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS) lapped in 2:26.328 to go P5, but in a dramatic late move, Baert’s teammate Gilles Magnus grabbed P2 with a time of 2:26.074 with under two minutes of the session remaining.
Aurélien Comte and Abdulla Al-Khelaifi were both excluded ahead of Qualifying because of slow connections to the game server.
Race 1 then saw a lights-to-flag victory recorded by Nagy. The Hyundai driver made a great start and was then never really threatened, quickly opening up a two-second lead over Boldizs, after the CUPRA had passed Magnus’ Audi for P2 at Raidillon on the opening lap. The race, however, did see a number of good battles, including one between Mat’o Homola and Teddy Clairet that ended when Clairet made a slight mistake and dropped several places. On Lap 4, there was contact between Baert and Teddy Clairet, while Azcona had briefly taken third place at the start of the lap only for Magnus to retake the position shortly afterwards. The same thing happened at the start of Lap 5, when Azcona dived up the inside of Magnus into the Source hairpin, with Magnus edging back ahead as the pair headed down the hill towards Eau Rouge. Going into Les Combes, there was contact between the pair and Támas Tenke was able to pass both cars to move from fifth into third place. Magnus was then hit by another car and would end the race outside the top ten. Homola and Baert made contact at the chicane at the end of Lap 6, but Homola kept the position. Nagy, Boldizs and Tenke made it an all-Hungarian podium, with Azcona, Jimmy Clairet, Langeveld, Homola, Baert, Teddy Clairet and Andrej Studenić (Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda Civic) completing the top ten.
Andreas Bäckman started from pole position for the reversed-grid Race 2, with Studenić alongside him on the front row. Contact between Bäckman and Magnus at the start meant that it was the Honda of Studenić that led, while another contact between Homola and Baert saw the Audi end up in the wall at the exit to La Source. Magnus passed Teddy Clairet for P2, with Clairet then being spun out of third place after contact with Tenke. Azcona then passed Magnus for second place - and this was all on the opening lap! On Lap 2, Nagy passed Magnus for third place, while Baert headed for the pits to repair the damage caused on Lap 1. The Audi was soon back in the fray, with Baert soon battling with Homola for eleventh place. Two laps later, the lead changed hands when there was contact between Azcona and Studenić at the chicane. Nagy also seized his chance and moved into second place, then began to reel in the race leader. There was then a three-way fight for the final podium place between Studenić, Magnus and Boldizs, which was eventually resolved in Boldizs’ favour on Lap 6. On the following lap, Nagy’s persistence paid off when he passed Azcona for the lead going downhill towards Eau Rouge and that’s how the race finished, with Nagy claiming his second win and Azcona finishing second ahead of Boldisz. Magnus was fourth, Studenić fifth, and Bäckman, Tenke, Martin Ryba (Brutal Fish Racing Honda Civic), Homola and Baert rounding off the top ten.
The perfect result for Nagy means he takes an early lead in the series. He has the maximum 90 points, while Boldizs is on 73, Azcona has 68, Tenke 52 and Magnus is fifth with 45. The next round will be at the virtual Red Bull Ring on Wednesday May 13th.