Ruben Volt won a dramatic final race of TCR Europe at Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, beating John Filippi by a little over six-tenths of a second; Viktor Andersson recorded his first podium result by finishing third, but fourth place was more than enough to give Tom Coronel the title.
Drama began before the start, as Coronel’s closest challenger for the title, his teammate Kobe Pauwels, pulled into the pit lane at the end of the formation lap with a driveshaft problem. Any hopes that the team could make repairs and get the young Belgian driver out on track quickly vanished.
At the start, Daniel Tkachenko rocketed past the pole-sitter Volt to lead. Tkachenko was deemed to have jumped the start and was given a drive-through penalty. Coronel had started from tenth but was already up to seventh while Filippi was fifth after starting from P8. The pair came into the race separated by 35 points and so Filippi was aware that only victory would do, with Coronel failing to score, for winning the championship. The pressure on Filippi increased when Coronel gained another place when he passed Lewis Brown for sixth.
On lap 2, Nicola Baldan was attacking Viktor Davidovski for P3 but ran wide, which allowed Coronel to pass for P5 behind Filippi. Brown then began to attack Baldan for sixth place. In lap 6, Filippi passed Davidovski for third, which set up a battle between Coronel and Davidovski for P4. On Lap 4, Coronel and Davidovski made contact, which sent the Macedonian driver spinning into the gravel and the safety car was deployed.
Racing resumed in lap 7, with Volt and Filippi both passing Tkachenko before he served his penalty. Brown, Baldan and Coronel were immediately involved in a three-way fight for P3, with Coronel hanging onto the position ahead of Brown. Baldan then lost another place when Andersson passed him for P5. Andersson then passed Brown for P4. On the penultimate lap, Coronel sensibly allowed Andersson past to move into third, well aware that he had a comfortable points advantage over Filippi. Then on the final lap, Baldan passed Brown for P5 after the British driver ran wide.
Volt took his second victory of the year ahead of Filippi and Andersson, but Coronel’s fourth place was enough to secure his first TCR title. The final Drivers’ standings see Coronel finish 27 points clear of Filippi, who overtook Pauwels in the points table.
“Not bad for a fifty-year old, grey and bald person!” said Coronel. “I’m so long in Touring Cars, I’ve been here since 2001, I’ve done all the championships and it’s great that I can finally win a title. My last one was the Formula Nippon in Japan in 1999, so it’s great after 24 years to take a title back home!”
Barcelona – Race 2
Picture: TCR Europe