After Mikel Azcona won Saturday’s Race 1 in Barcelona to become the 2021 TCR Europe Drivers’ Champion, in Race 2 it was the turn of his new Volcano Motorsport teammate Klim Gavrilov to take the victory, becoming the eighth different winner from the fourteen races this season. Gavrilov defended his lead from Jack Young for much of the race, but a drive-through penalty meant it was Young’s colleague Isidro Callejas who eventually finished second ahead of Mehdi Bennani, who occupied the final step on the podium
The season’s final race saw twenty-one cars take the start, with Azcona and Tom Coronel having flown to the Czech Republic to take part in the WTCR event at Most after yesterday’s race and Dušan Borkovič having withdrawn with continued engine issues. Gavrilov started from pole on the reversed grid and was first to Turn 1 but Young made a better start from P3 than Callejas from P2 and so it was the British driver who was behind Gavrilov, with Callejas third and Bennani fourth. Behind those four, Teddy Clairet’s Peugeot had made up three places and was in fifth ahead of the two Hyundai Elantra N cars of Niels Langeveld and Sami Taoufik.
The fourth Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai, of Felice Jelmini, started from the back of the grid after a penalty for causing a collision in Race 1. Starting just ahead of the Italian was Franco Girolami’s Honda Civic, with the Argentinian driver having made it to P12 by the end of the opening lap. That lap also saw contact between the CUPRA of Evgenii Leonov and Viktor Davidovski’s Honda; Leonov would later retire in the pits while Davidovski dropped outside the top ten.
While the battle for the lead between Gavrilov and Young raged, there were a number of scraps taking place further down the order. On Lap 3, there was contact between Leonov and Jelmini that saw the Elantra pass the CUPRA for P14 while Girolami’s Honda passed the Audi of Nicolas Baert for P9 on the same lap. A great four-way fight for positions from third to sixth was also developing, with Sami Taoufik passing Teddy Clairet for P5 on Lap 5 and starting to close up on Bennani who was battling with Callejas for third place.
A number of drivers received penalties during the race, with Martin Ryba being handed a drive-through for causing a collision. His hopes of beating Davidovski to win the Diamond class effectively ended at that point and he received a further setback when he ran wide through the gravel on Lap 8. Ryba’s young teammate Jack Young, meanwhile, received a warning for repeated track limit infringements and then was handed a drive-through for further track limit breaches. He served his penalty after the penultimate lap and ended the race in fifteenth place, scoring a solitary point.
Young’s penalty elevated the other Brutal Fish Honda of Isidro Callejas into second place and the Spanish teenager delivered probably the drive of the race. Despite close attention from the 2020 TCR Europe Champion Mehdi Bennani throughout virtually the entire race, Callejas held his nerve and finished a brilliant second, pipping the Moroccan driver by less than three-tenths. Sami Taoufik was fourth and the two Team Clairet Sport Peugeots were fifth and sixth, with Teddy narrowly beating his brother Jimmy.
But there was no denying Klim Gavrilov the victory. The young Russian had elected to switch from the Audi RS 3 LMS in which he’d contested the first six events of the season to the Volcano Motorsport team and their CUPRA Leon Competición and the move had clearly paid off. Before the weekend, Gavrilov had hinted that the move was part of possible preparations for the 2022 TCR Europe season, so he’ll have plenty to think about over the winter…
The result means that, along with Azcona clinching the Drivers’ title after Race 1, the other TCR Europe titles were all settled in Race 2. Sébastien Loeb Racing had mathematically clinched the Teams’ prize before the race so their victory was confirmed, while there was also confirmation of Callejas’ emphatic win in the Rookie class. Baert took the Junior title for Comtoyou Racing and Davidovski defeated Ryba in the battle for the Diamond class. Langeveld, meanwhile, clinched the TCR Benelux title, which was decided by the results from the races at Zandvoort, Spa, the Nürburgring, Monza and Barcelona.
Race 2 result
1. Klim Gavrilov (Volcano Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición) 12 laps
2. Isidro Callejas (Brutal Fish Racing, Honda Civic Type-R) +8.758
3. Mehdi Bennani (Sébastien Loeb Racing, Hyundai Elantra N) +9.031
4. Sami Taoufik (Sébastien Loeb Racing, Hyundai Elantra N) +9.407
5. Teddy Clairet (Team Clairet Sport, Peugeot 308) +9.641
6. Jimmy Clairet (Team Clairet Sport, Peugeot 308) +10.106
1.Azcona 432 pts; 2. Girolami 344 pts; 3. Langeveld 286 pts; 4. Coronel 258 pts; 5. Bennani 247 pts