Franco Girolami secured the TCR Italy title by finishing second in the season’s penultimate race at Imola behind Marco Butti and ahead of his contender, the outgoing champion Niels Langeveld. The difference was made Saturday morning by the Court’s decision to uphold the appeal lodged by Aikoa Racing, reinstating the Argentine as the winner of Monza’s Race 1. On Sunday, Butti encored with Langeveld second and Girolami third. In the final standings, Girolami has built a margin of 38 points over Langeveld, with Aurélien Comte in third position.
Race 1 – Ruben Volt had set the pole beating Matteo Poloni by 0.099 seconds, while title contenders Girolami and Langeveld shared the second row of the grid. At the start, Volt stalled, and it was chaos! Volt’s car was hit by Paolo Rocca and sent against those of Junesung Park and Levente Losonczy, while Rocca’s spinning car was collected by those of Sylvain Pussier and Cosimo Barberini. The race was red-flagged and restarted behind the safety car twenty minutes later with Poloni leading from Girolami and Langeveld. Girolami put the pressure on Poloni, while Langeveld struggled to keep Junui Park at bay; Butti benefited from the fight and passed both Langeveld and Park, moving into P3. In lap 5, Comte passed Massaro for P7 and began to chase Felice Jelmini and Park. At the end of lap 7, Butti joined the leading pair, while Langeveld was also closing the gap. In lap 8, Butti overtook Girolami for second and one lap later he stole the lead from Poloni. In lap 10, both Girolami and Langeveld passed Poloni moving into P2 and P3 respectively. Butti scored his second win of the season, while Girolami successfully defended the second place from Langeveld. After the race, Poloni was given a 25-second penalty for overtaking under red flag and dropped from fourth to 12th.
Following the incident at the start, Pussier was hospitalized with a broken cervical vertebra.
Race 2 – Comte and Jelmini shared the front row of the top-eight reversed grid; Comte led at the start from Butti, Junui Park, Langeveld, Jelmini and Girolami. In lap 2, Butti made a move on Comte who retained the lead, while Langeveld passed Park for third. Girolami too overtook Park for P4, with the Korean dropping to ninth. In lap 4, Butti took the lead from Comte, but two laps later the safety car was deployed after Rubén Fernández’s Audi crashed and stopped on the track. When the race resumed, there was contact between Jelmini and Poloni who were fighting for P5, with Poloni dropping to 14th. Butti held on to the lead as he was chased by the quartet of Comte, Langeveld, Girolami and Jelmini. In lap 13, Langeveld muscled his way past Comte, they came together, and the French driver dropped to fifth behind Girolami and Jelmini. Butti managed to resist a last attack from Langeveld and took his second win of the day, inches ahead of Langeveld and Girolami.
Imola – Race 1
Imola – Race 2
Picture: ACI Sport