Dániel Nagy followed up on his perfect score from last week at a virtual Spa-Francorchamps, with pole position and victory in the first race of the TCR Europe SIM Racing series at the Red Bull Ring. However, the Hungarian wasn’t able to add to his hat trick come Race 2, when Comtoyou Racing’s Niels Langeveld prevailed in the reversed grid second race.
Nagy led the way in the 20-minute qualifying session, with the BRC Racing Team Hyundai driver’s first lap time of 1:34.641 already good enough to seal pole, but he still found more time to improve to a 1:34.605 on his second run. Nagy’s first challenge in the session came from countryman Tamás Tenke, whose Tenke Motorsport CUPRA was just over a tenth of a second behind after ten minutes. The qualifying battle for pole heated up in the final ten minutes, with Tenke improving to a time of 1:34.745, but his time was matched by Jimmy Clairet’s Peugeot 308. After the chequered flag fell, Gilles Magnus hurled his Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS to take a last-gasp second place, just 0.084 seconds behind Nagy’s Hyundai, with the Belgian battling back after his earlier best lap was deleted due to track limits.
Race 1 - At the start, Nagy led into Turn 1, while there was trouble behind, as the Zengõ Motorsport CUPRA of Bence Boldizs was knocked wide at the exit, but the Hungarian only dropped from sixth to ninth.
Jimmy Clairet’s race quickly unravelled, as the Peugeot driver was pushed wide by Mat’o Homola’s BRC Hyundai at Turn 3 as they battled for fourth, with Clairet then dropping further down the order. The mantle was picked up by his brother and team-mate Teddy, who was now right on the rear of Homola’s car. On lap three, Teddy Clairet dived down the inside of Homola at Turn 2, which set up a three-wide fight, with Mikel Azcona’s PCR Sport CUPRA joining them on a run up the inside. Azcona overtook the pair of them at the exit of the corner, with Clairet now up to fifth and Homola dropping down to sixth who now had a recovering Boldizs right behind him.
Clairet however had more pace than Azcona, and the Peugeot blasted past the CUPRA on the following lap, with Azcona now dropping back towards Homola and Boldizs. On lap five, Homola dived down the inside of Azcona at Turn 1, with Boldizs following him through, with the 2018 TCR Europe champion demoted to seventh in short order.
The race settled down until the final two laps – with the Audi of Langeveld making a move on the penultimate lap to take 11th from Andreas Bäckman’s Target Competition Hyundai, which effectively promoted the Swede to pole position for the top-12 reversed grid second race. On the final lap, Azcona made a final lunge to try and retake sixth from Boldizs, but the wily Hungarian took the place back with the switchback on the exit.
Up front, Nagy cruised to victory, 1.7 seconds clear of Magnus, with Tenke completing the top three.
Race 2 - Andreas Bäckman lined up on pole position, but the young Swedish driver’s lead lasted as far as Turn 1, when Langeveld put his Audi RS 3 LMS down the inside and took point.
On a busy first lap, Azcona made contact with Boldizs as they battled for fourth, with Azcona then passing the Brutal Fish Racing Team Honda of Andrej Studenič in the final sequence of corners, with Homola’s Hyundai and Teddy Clairet’s Peugeot following him through. Race 1 winner Nagy was hit and sent wide at Turn 1, dropping from 12th at the start to 14th by the end of the first lap.
Boldizs was struggling in seventh, and Magnus overtook him on lap three on the run up to Turn 3. Boldizs then dropped behind fellow Hungarian Tenke, and then into the final corner on the same lap found himself part of a four-car tussle involving Abdulla Al-Khelaifi’s QMMF Racing CUPRA, and the Peugeot 308 of Julien Briché, with Boldizs coming off worse and being sent off the circuit, and dropped to the midfield.
Langeveld was sitting pretty up front, while Azcona was working his way forwards, overtaking Andreas Bäckman with a daring dive down the inside at Turn 2 on lap five. Behind Bäckman, Homola was involved in a brilliant battle with Teddy Clairet and the two drivers quickly closed in on Bäckman.
On lap seven, Homola and Clairet both went down the inside of Bäckman at Turn 3. Homola completed the pass, while Bäckman was able to retake a spot from Clairet at the exit, but he was only able to keep the place for another half a lap before Clairet manoeuvred his way past at the final corner to take fourth.
The squabble allowed Magnus to close in, and the Belgian quickly dispatched Bäckman for fifth on lap nine, making his favourite move to slipstream past on the back straight out of Turn 2. With two laps to go, Magnus then closed down and overtook Teddy Clairet for fourth at Turn 2.
Nagy had made his way up to seventh, but lost a spot to Tenke on the penultimate lap and would have to settle for eighth.
It was an easy victory for Langeveld, with Azcona and Homola completing the podium.
Nagy continues to lead the TCR Europe SIM Racing series, now extending his lead on 155 points, 44 clear of Tenke, with Azcona now moving up to third in the standings, just four more points behind.
However, the best scorer in the event was Magnus with 71 points that granted him two free Yokohama tyres for the second race meeting of the actual TCR Europe Series.
The next round of the series takes place at a virtual representation of the Hungaroring in two weeks’ time on May 27th.