In a repeat of his result at Spa-Francorchamps last year, Spain’s Mikel Azcona won both TCR Europe races at the Belgian circuit to extend his lead in the Drivers’ series. Mat’o Homola finished second to record his best result of the 2021 season, passing the Peugeot of Teddy Clairet on the final lap to relegate the French driver to third.
With rain clouds building as the cars headed for the grid, the Race Director declared the race wet and so it would start behind the safety car. Tyre choice was also going to be an issue, with most drivers opting for a mix of slick and wet tyres although pole-sitter Klim Gavrilov went for wet tyres all round and Homola chose to fit four slick tyres. After the first of two laps behind the safety car, several drivers dived into the pits to change rubber, among them Jack Young, Martin Ryba and Jimmy Clairet.
When the safety car peeled into the pits, eight racing laps lay ahead of the field. Gavrilov was first into Turn 1, the La Source hairpin, but moments later there was contact between the Audi RS3 LMS of Tom Coronel and Felice Jelmini’s Hyundai Elantra N after the Italian driver swerved across the track while trying to avoid another car. A series of fierce battles would rage throughout the race, beginning on the opening lap when Nicolas Baert attacked Franco Girolami and Mikel Azcona attacked and then passed Baert after starting from seventh on the grid. The CUPRA driver then passed Girolami’s Honda Civic for third, which quickly became second after race leader Gavrilov headed for the pits after realizing his tyre choice had been incorrect.
On the next lap, Azcona passed his young compartriot Isidro Callejas for second place and began his pursuit of the new race leader, Teddy Clairet. Behind the scraps for the podium positions, however, there were a number of battles developing throughout the rest of the top ten. Sami Taoufik passed Baert for P5 into the chicane and then began attacking Girolami for fourth on Lap 5, while Niels Langeveld and Mat’o Homola both passed Mehdi Bennani for seventh and eighth respectively with Homola then passing Langeveld. On the next lap, while Azcona was closing in on the leader, there was contact between Taoufik and Girolami at La Source before the Hyundai passed the Honda going down the Kemmel Straight and Homola was able to pass both to move up to fourth. Girolami and Baert were lucky to escape unscathed after they went onto the grass, while at the end of the lap Azcona powered past Teddy Clairet under braking for the chicane to take the lead.
On Lap 7, Homola passed Callejas for third while the furious battles further back saw Bennani pass Baert for eighth place coming out of La Source. Baert, however, retook the position thanks to the slipstream coming down the Kemmel Straight and was also able to pass Girolami for P7. The Argentinian driver was able to retake seventh on the penultimate lap and Homola’s inspired gamble on taking four slick tyres paid off on the final lap when he was able to pass Teddy Clairet for second place.
But the race – and the weekend – belonged to Azcona. He encored his 2020 result of claiming both race victories at Spa and so, together with qualifying in fourth place, scored 87 out of the possible 90 points on offer over the weekend. That means the Volcano Motorsport driver will take a 30-point lead in the Drivers’ standings into the second half of the season.
Race 2 result
1. Mikel Azcona (Volcano Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición) 10 laps
2. Mat’o Homola (Janik Motorsport, Hyundai i30 N) +1.812
3. Teddy Clairet (Team Clairet Sport, Peugeot 308) +2.412
4. Isidro Callejas (Brutal Fish Racing, Honda Civic Type-R) +12.186
5. Niels Langeveld (Sébastien Loeb Racing, Hyundai Elantra N) +12.693
1.Azcona 230 pts; 2. Girolami 200 pts; 3. Bennani 183 pts; 4. Langeveld 163 pts; 5. Coronel 154 pts
The TCR Europe series next heads to the Nürgburgring in Germany over the weekend of September 4th and 5th.