Mikel Azcona, driving a Volcano Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición, took a lights-to-flag victory in Race 1 at Barcelona to record his sixth race win of the year and so secured the 2021 TCR Europe Drivers’ title with one race in hand – the second time the Spaniard has won the championship after he took the title in 2018. Teddy Clairet brought his Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308 home in second place while the Sébastien Loeb Racing Hyundai Elantra N of Sami Taoufik completed the podium places.
Starting from pole position, Azcona made a good start and led into Turn 1, while Teddy Clairet passed Taoufik for second place away from the grid and so it was the Peugeot in P2 as the field streamed through the first corner. Azcona’s only rival for the title, Franco Girolami, started from the back of the grid after a water pump belt problem in Qualifying and the PSS Racing Team Honda appeared to be involved in an incident on the opening lap in which the Hyundai of Felice Jelmini made contact with Tom Coronel’s Audi. The steering on the Elantra was broken by the contact and that resulted in Jelmini hitting the CUPRA of Felipe Fernandez into the gravel at Turn 11. The safety car was deployed while both cars could be recovered.
Racing eventually resumed at the start of Lap 7, with the race distance having been increased from 12 laps to 14. Jimmy Clairet soon passed Evgenii Leonov for tenth place, with Leonov then dropping to 14th. The Volcano Motorsport CUPRA briefly recovered a position when Leonov passed Mat’o Homola for P13 on the next lap, but a string of cars were battling for positions outside the top ten and Leonov quickly found himself back in P16 when he was passed by Girolami.
The four-way fight for 11th to 14th between Klim Gavrilov, Viktor Davidovski, Homola and Jáchym Galáš would become a five-way contest when Tom Coronel passed Girolami for 15th and joined the rear of the pack. Further up the leaderboard, Isidro Callejas passed his Brutal Fish Racing teammate Martin Ryba for sixth place, with Jack Young then passing Mehdi Bennani for eighth place so that the three Brutal Fish Honda cars were running together. Bennani was then passed by Jimmy Clairet for ninth.
Over the final few laps, the only change to the top ten places was when Callejas passed Niels Langeveld for P5 on the final lap. Azcona then took the chequered flag to win by 1.369 seconds from Teddy Clairet with Taoufik finishing third, a little over three seconds behind the Peugeot. A dejected Girolami eventually finished 17th and so was outside the points, which meant that he is unable to catch Azcona despite there being one race of the season left to run tomorrow. The new TCR Europe Champion, meanwhile, will head back to Most in the Czech Republic for the WTCR event tomorrow in which he will start Race 2 from pole position.
Race 1 result
1. Mikel Azcona (Volcano Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición) 14 laps
2. Teddy Clairet (Team Clairet Sport, Peugeot 308) +1.369
3. Sami Taoufik (Sébastien Loeb Racing, Hyundai Elantra N) +4.517
4. Nicolas Baert (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS) +7.279
5. Isidro Callejas (Brutal Fish Racing, Honda Civic Type-R) +7.864
Twenty-two of the twenty-four cars entered started the race, with the Audi of Dušan Borkovič having been withdrawn before the start with an engine issue and the CUPRA of Gilles Colombani failing to leave the pit lane as the grid formed up.
1.Azcona 432 pts; 2. Girolami 329 pts; 3. Langeveld 268 pts; 4. Coronel 258 pts; 5. Baert 230 pts
Race 2 is scheduled to start at 13.45 CEST on Sunday and will be streamed live via the TCR Portal, on TCR TV and the series’ social media platforms.