Ignacio Montenegro secures his first TCR Europe win in dramatic Race 2 at Spa

Ignacio Montenegro secures his first TCR Europe win in dramatic Race 2 at Spa

Reigning TCR South America champion Ignacio Montenegro has claimed his first win in the TCR Europe series in a wild second race at Spa-Francorchamps, which saw rain fall on the final lap, and a shake up amongst the title contenders, with Aurélien Comte and Franco Girolami now tied at the top heading into the summer break.


It was the SP Compétition CUPRA of Giovanni Scamardi who started the race from pole position, but after an issue with the launch control on the grid, the only Belgian in the field failed to get away, and allowing the ALM Motorsport Honda of Levente Losonczy straight into the lead.


Behind him the fast-starting Lynk & Co of MA:GP driver Viktor Andersson tried to grab second at La Source, but he fell behind the Honda of Montenegro at the exit.


On the opening lap, for the second race in a row, Rubén Fernández ran into trouble, clattering the barriers at the exit of Raidillon and fell to the back of the pack.


At the start of lap two, Montenegro dived down the inside of his team-mate Losonczy at La Source and took the lead of the race.


The title contenders Girolami and Comte were making fast progress and were up to fourth and fifth in the early running.


Losonczy meanwhile was under immense pressure from Andersson’s Lynk & Co, with the Swedish driver lining him up for a pass on the Kemmel straight on lap three. The two made light contact on the entry, with Andersson running wide through the corner and taking second place.


Behind them Comte put a move on Girolami at the exit and took fourth position from his title rival, while the tow drivers had the Honda of Ruben Volt closing down on them.


At the start of lap four, the two Diamond Trophy joint-pointes leaders rubbed wheels at the exit of La Source, with the Audi of Nicola Baldan getting ahead of Felipe Fernández’s Honda, before he went on to pass Fernández’s team-mate Santiago Concepción at Les Combes on the same lap for eighth overall.


Volt made a lunge on Girolami for fifth at the final corner, but this cost him momentum and allowed the CUPRA of Girolami’s team-mate Eric Gené up ahead and also left Volt vulnerable to attack from Baldan, who edged ahead of Volt before Eau Rouge.


The safety car was then called for debris a lap later which bunched up the pack before a restart.


At the restart, Girolami’s team-mate Gené dropped back which kept Girolami safe from attack from Baldan and Volt behind, for which he was later handed a seven-place grid penalty.


Ahead, Comte made a dive at Losonczy for P3 at La Source, with both Comte and Girolami moving ahead on the way into Eau Rouge. The two title rivals then went side-by-side up through Raidillon and both ran wide, inadvertently allowing Losonczy back through.


Girolami then got back ahead of Comte at Les Combes while Gené spun out behind them, and the Baldan made his way past Comte up to fifth position.


Baldan then passed Girolami at Les Combes on the next lap to move up to fourth, before the Honda of Felipe Fernández then passed both the title contenders later on the lap.


There was more drama to come as the rain started to fall on the final lap. The changing conditions caught out Girolami who made a mistake and ran wide, falling behind both Comte and Volt, with Comte promoted to sixth and Volt seventh in the final order. Further behind on the road, Gené crashed out and took significant damage to the front-right of his CUPRA.


Up front there was no pressure beyond keeping it on track in the difficult conditions for Montenegro, who secured his first win of the season and moves back ahead of team-mate Volt to third in the standings.


Second was Andersson’s best finish in his TCR Europe career, while Losonczy secured his third career podium.


Girolami and Comte are now tied at the top of the standings on 259 points, with a two month break before the series resumes at Brno in Czechia on September 6-8.


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