This weekend, the penultimate event of the 2021 TCR Europe series takes place at the legendary ‘Temple of Speed’ at Monza in Italy with the two races set to field the largest grids of the entire season.
A total of twenty-eight cars are entered for the Italian rounds of the series, with Gustav Birch and Łukasz Stolarczyk returning after previous one-off drives in Zandvoort and the Nürburgring respectively and Evgenii Leonov retaking his seat at Volcano Motorsport after missing the German event. In addition, there will be no fewer than five new faces on the grid, with the Hyundai i30 N of TCR Italy race winner Damiano Reduzzi being joined by a pair of Audi RS 3 LMS cars for TCR Eastern Europe drivers Bartosz Groszek and Petr Čižek and Venezuela’s Sergio López and Spaniard Rubén Fernández in two CUPRA Leon Competición cars.
The races at the Nürburgring in Germany three weeks ago saw Mikel Azcona take back-to-back victories, adding to the identical result at Spa-Francorchamps and his win in the opening race of the season at the Slovakiaring in early May. Those results mean that Azcona travels to Italy with a 37-point lead in the Drivers’ standings over Franco Girolami, with Niels Langeveld in third place, a further 51 points adrift, and the reigning TCR Europe champion Mehdi Bennani another 33 points behind Langeveld in fourth place. A total of 180 points are still up for grabs with 10 points awarded to the fastest in Qualifying and 40 to the winner of each of the four remaining races. Thanks to a rule change this year, however, drivers will drop their two worst scores and so Azcona’s lead is even more commanding thanks to him missing the Zandvoort event and so not having to drop any further points.
The Teams’ title will almost certainly be decided this weekend as it’s tough to see anyone beating Sébastien Loeb Racing to the crown; the French outfit are currently 114 points clear of Comtoyou Racing with third-placed PSS Racing 57 points behind Comtoyou and Team Clairet Sport a further 7 points in arrears. The two highest-placed cars in each team score points, so the leaders have a distinct advantage with their four Hyundai Elantra N cars, compared to the three Audi RS 3 LMS cars run by Comtoyou Racing and the two PSS Racing Honda Civic cars.
Aside from the tussles for the TCR Europe titles, which include battles for the Junior, Rookie and Diamond classes, there is also a strong likelihood of further names being added to the list of race winners. Apart from the five victories recorded by Azcona, five other drivers have each taken single wins so far in 2021 and several others have come close to securing visits to the top step of the podium. Among them are Langeveld and his Sébastien Loeb Racing teammates Sami Taoufik and Felice Jelmini, the Brutal Fish Racing pairing of Jack Young and Isidro Callejas and Nicolas Baert and Dušan Borkovič in the two Comtoyou Racing cars.
With such a large field and the season building towards its conclusion, the Monza circuit is set to host two fascinating and unpredictable TCR races this weekend.
Friday September 24th
12.10 – 12.40 Free Practice 1
16.20 – 16.50 Free Practice 2
Saturday September 25th
09.00 – 09.35 Qualifying
13.05 – 13.35 Race 1 (10 laps)
Sunday September 26th
13.30 – 14.00 Race 2 (10 laps)
Both races will be streamed live via the TCR Portal tcr-series.tv and on the TCR Europe social media channels.