V-Action Racing Team Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR driver Luigi Ferrara, suffered a tough time of it during the second round of TCR Italy, held at the Paul Ricard Circuit last weekend, but still emerged as the championship classification leader albeit with his advantage at the top almost completely whittled away.
Ferrara had enjoyed a stunning start to TCR Italy 2018 during the season opener, which was held two weeks ago, emerging from Imola with two wins from the two races to stake his place at the top of the championship standings driving V-Action’s Romeo Ferraris-built Giulietta TCR.
However, all that good work came undone last weekend when the series moved out of Italy and into France for its second round and a mid distance retirement in the first race followed by P16 in the second simply wasn’t what he had been looking for and allowed his title rivals to close right in.
Due to extreme weather conditions during the second race it was red flagged early and half points were awarded which help the out-of-sorts Ferrara with some ‘damage limitation’ and he returned to Italy with a slender three-and-a-half-point cushion at the top.
Instead, in Race 1 it was TCR Italy’s reigning champion Nicola Baldan who made up for the disappointing season’s start he had endured at Imola and converted his pole position into victory at Le Castellet.
In the first half of the first race, Baldan and his Pit Lane Competizioni Hyundai i30 N had an exciting and fair fight with the BRC Racing’s Hyundai of Eric Scalvini. The latter had taken the lead at the start and managed to reject Baldan’s assault until the sixth lap.
Immediately after the lead change the Safety Car was deployed following a collision that eliminated Alessandro Thellung’s SEAT León and cost Turkish driver Caglayan Celik a 25-second penalty.
When the race resumed, Baldan was able to create a gap, while Scalvini had to defend second place from Salvatore Tavano’s charging Cupra. Behind them the trio of Target Competition’s Honda Civic cars delivered a close battle for fourth position and eventually Marco Pellegrini was able to cross the finishing line inches ahead of Jürgen Schmarl and José Rodrigues.
Andrea Larini and Federico Paolino ranked seventh and eighth, followed by Giovanni Altoè who beat Massimiliano Gagliano for victory in the DSG Trophy.
Ferrara, retired from seventh place on lap 6 due to an intercooler failure; however, he was still on top of the standings overnight with one more race to go, having 41 points, six more than the pairing Tavano and Matteo Greco; Baldan meanwhile climbed to fourth place in the standings thanks to that win and was another five further points adrift.
Larini then won Sunday’s second race of TCR Italy at Le Castellet but it was race that never actually started, with the field circulating for ten minutes behind the safety car on a flooded track, in pouring rain and with a poor visibility.
Only two laps were completed before the red flag was waved as the weather conditions were getting even worse. However, the Race Director considered that the 30% of the race distance (25 minutes) had been completed and half points were awarded.
Larini (Pit Lane Competizioni Cupra) who had started on pole position on the reverse grid was declared the winner, with Paolino (BRC Racing Hyundai) second and José Rodriguez (Target Competition Honda) third.
Race 1 winner Baldan was classified eighth while championship leader Ferrara was sixteenth. In spite of this, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta driver remains on top of the standings with 41 points but is now just 3.5 points in front of Tavano and Greco.
The next round of TCR Italy will take place at the Misano circuit on June 15-17.
TCR Italy Drivers’ Championship standings (after 2 rounds): 1) Luigi Ferrara (Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR V-Action Racing Team), 41; 2) Salvatore Tavano (Cupra TCR TCR Seat Motorsport Italia), 37.5; 3) Matteo Greco (Cupra TCR TCR Seat Motorsport Italia), 37.5; 4) Andrea Larini (Cupra TCR TCR Pit Lane Competizioni), 32; 5) Nicola Baldan (Hyundai i30 N TCR Pit Lane Competizioni), 31.5; 6) Enrico Bettera (Audi RS3 LMS TCR Pit Lane Competizioni), 27; 7) José Rodrigues (Honda Civic TCR Target Competition), 24; 8) Eric Scalvini (Hyundai i30 N TCR BRC Racing Team), 18.
Photos: V-Action Racing Team Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR - TCR Italy 2018