Oct. 16, 2022
Girolami heads a ComtoYou 1-2-3 in the final race of the season
Franco Girolami rounded off an incredible 2022 TCR Europe campaign for the Comtoyou Racing team by taking his fourth victory of the season in the year’s final race at the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya. With Tom Coronel finishing second and Frédéric Vervisch third in the Comtoyou Team Audi Sport car, the podium was a complete lockout for the Belgian team. The result also means that Coronel has moved ahead of Josh Files to end the year in second place in the Drivers’ championship.
At the start, pole-sitter John Filippi was first to T1 in the Sébastien Loeb Racing – Bardahl Team CUPRA with Vervisch briefly in P2, making up three places after starting from fifth on the grid. There was contact between Vervisch and Pepe Oriola in T1 but both drivers continued. On the opening lap, Girolami moved up to P3 ahead of Vervisch before the Argentinian driver went up the inside of both Oriola and Filippi through the final few corners to take the lead. Oriola pushed Vervisch onto the grass on the start/finish straight at the end of the lap.
On the next lap, Josh Files passed Jáchym Galáš for P5 after slight contact between the pair. There were a number of incidents including contact between Galáš and John Filippi, with the Frenchman eventually ending up in the gravel at T7 after contact with Jack Young’s Honda. On Lap 3, Mike Halder passed Files for P5 behind Coronel and Isidro Callejas passed Galáš for P7. The Safety Car was then deployed so that marshals could recover Filippi’s car from the gravel.
Racing resumed on Lap 5 with a good restart from Girolami, aided by Vervisch holding back the rest of the field, and Coronel immediately began attacking Oriola for third place. In a brave move, Galáš tried diving up the inside of Klim Gavrilov but overshot and so lost the position once again. At the start of Lap 6, Files and Callejas both went up the inside of Mike Halder going down to T1 but Halder then retook P6 from Callejas. Jack Young was fighting with Galáš with the Halder Motorsport Honda passing the HYUNDAI | Janík Motorsport Elantra for P10.
On Lap 7, Oriola appeared to pick up a puncture going down to T1, and the Aggressive Team Italia Hyundai slowed before pulling onto the grass. Comtoyou Racing now held all of the top three places as a result. Files was now fourth and Mike Halder fifth. The Safety Car was deployed for a second time so that Oriola’s car could be recovered. On the TV replay, Galáš appeared to lose part of the car’s rear bodywork going down the start/finish straight but continued.
After another quick stoppage, racing got underway again on Lap 9 and again Vervisch seemed to hold up the rest of field to let Girolami get away. Coronel then passed Vervisch for P2 into T1, which meant he was now second in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Files, who was dropping back after being passed by Young and forced to run wide. Young was now P6 behind Gavrilov and, after a battle between the pair, the Honda was able to pass the CUPRA for P5 going into the chicane on the next lap.
On Lap 11, Butti cut T1, going across the runoff area while attacking Callejas. Butti dropped to P9 as a result, allowing Files back up to P7 and Callejas to P8. The next lap then saw Files attacking Gavrilov and there was contact between them, with Files half-spinning into the gravel and Gavrilov dropping down to P12 as a result of the incident.
Over the final few laps, the leading places didn’t change, although Mike Halder had closed up to within three-tenths of Vervisch as the cars took the chequered flag and Halder’s teammate Jack Young was a similar margin behind in P5. A delighted Girolami took his fourth win of the season by a margin of 1.332 seconds over Coronel with Vervisch hanging on to finish third ahead of Halder. Race 1 winner Jack Young was fifth and Isidro Callejas rounded off the top six. After the race, Gavrilov was given a ten-second penalty for the incident with Files, which dropped Gavrilov to P16 and so out of the Drivers’ points positions. Felipe Fernandez also received a five-second penalty for an incident involving Samuel Sláde?ka and so the RC2 Junior Team driver dropped a place to eighteenth.
With the Drivers’ Championship already decided, the result means Coronel finished second in the standings behind Girolami while Files dropped to third and Callejas moved up to finish fourth ahead of his teammate Gavrilov. In the Teams’ championship, thanks to Gavrilov's penalty Target Competition was able to finish the season in second place ahead of Volcano Motorsport by the slender margin of just two points.
Race 2 result
1. Franco Girolami (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS TCR) 14 laps
2. Tom Coronel (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS TCR) +1.332
3. Frédéric Vervisch (Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS TCR) +5.686
4. Mike Halder (Halder Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R) +5.975
5. Jack Young (Halder Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R) +6.270
6. Isidro Callejas (Volcano Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición) +13.335
Girolami 431pts; 2. Coronel 316pts; 3. Files 285pts; 4. Callejas 275pts; 5. Gavrilov 256pts.
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