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Oriola Takes Podium in Race Two of Austria

Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil came to the Salzburgring to continue their championship charge and fought hard in both of the hotly contested races on the high speed circuit. All three drivers were able to finish in the points at the Austrian circuit and contribute greatly to the teams’ championship points haul. Pepe Oriola claimed fourth in race one and drove a brilliant race two to take the second step of the podium, bringing him within four points of second place. Even with 20kg of Success Ballast, Jordi Gené proved once again that he is one of this season’s strongest championship contenders with a fourth in race one. It was looking to be another strong result for race two until a punctured tyre from unwarranted contact forced him into the pits and out of championship point contention, although he still finished the race in P10. Sergey Afanaysev started down the order due to a grid penalty from Monza but finished eighth after charging through the field in race one. He well and truly impressed in race two though where after a first corner incident saw him drop down the order, he knuckled down and produced some fantastic laps to eventually finish just outside of the podium in P4.

Qualifying

As with the previous round in Monza, the Salzburgring is another high speed circuit which demands the use of slipstreaming to reap the best qualifying times. The trio of Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL drivers worked together once again, with Afanaysev leading the pack and seeing all three of the drivers through to the next round of qualifying with ease. The three drivers would finish the session separated by a scant 0.142s, proving just how close the competition really is. It was Oriola who would manage the fastest time in Q2, scoring a P4 with a 1:27.168, followed closely by his two teammates, Gené registering a time of 1:27.269 to take P5, and Afanaysev completing a 1:27.310 for P6. However, Afanaysev would start P11 for race one after a five place grid penalty for an incident in Monza.

Qualifying Results

1 Kevin Gleason (USA) Honda Civic TCR 1:26.915 Q2 West Coast Racing
2 Gianni Morbidelli (ITA) Honda-Civic TCR 1:27.006 Q2 West Coast Racing
3 Stefano Comini (SUI) SEAT León 1:27.107 Q2 Target Competition
4 Pepe Oriola (ESP) SEAT León 1:27.168 Q2 Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL
5 Jordi Gené (ESP) SEAT León 1:27.269 Q2 Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL
6 Sergey Afanasyev (RUS) SEAT León 1:27.310 Q2 Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL

Race One

All three Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL drivers got away with a clean start for the first race at the Salzburgring, with Afanaysev taking four positions to settle into P7 before the first corner with a brilliant charge around the outside. Oriola and Gené maintained their starting positions and settled into a quick rhythm. Oriola was focused on Gianni Morbidelli and was looking for any opportunity to pass but could not find a way around.

As the race continued, Gené remained close behind Oriola who now had the chance to challenge Morbidelli on lap nine. After an increasingly long battle, Morbidelli made a mistake and Oriola seized the chance, taking him on the inside of the chicane. Morbidelli tried to shut the door on Oriola but clipped him with the front-left of his car while Oriola squeezed by into P2, unfortunately, the contact would result in Oriola dropping back down the order into P5 by lap ten.

Gené was able to capitalize on the contact between Morbidelli and his teammate Oriola, avoiding the fray and moving up into P3. However, Andrea Belicchi was putting pressure on the Spaniard, over the next few laps Gené would use all of his skill as a touring car veteran to remain ahead.

On the penultimate lap, the intense battle between Gené and Belicchi reached its peak, with Gené unable to hold off any longer, his 20kg of Success Ballast hampering his every defensive effort. Belicchi went around the outside of Gené, who was now in P4 and under attack from Morbidelli.

It was down to the wire on the final lap, with Gené blocking Morbidelli’s every challenge. Oriola was now in P6 defending Afanysev who was on his tail. The Russian made the move on his teammate but made a mistake and dropped a further place down the order. Once the chequered flag was waved, Gené had held off Morbidelli’s attack to take a well fought P4, with Oriola making it home P6 after contact limited his performance. Afanaysev put in a solid race to cross the finish line in P8 after starting from P11.

Results Race One

1 Kevin Gleason (USA) Honda Civic TCR West Coast Racing
2 Stefano Comini (SUI) SEAT León 2.838 Target Competition
3 Andrea Belicchi (ITA) SEAT León 5.109 Target Competition
4 Jordi Gené (ESP) SEAT León 5.595 Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL
5 Gianni Morbidelli (ITA) Honda-Civic TCR 5.919 West Coast Racing
6 Pepe Oriola (ESP) SEAT León 7.399 Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL
8 Sergey Afanasyev (RUS) SEAT León 8.214 Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL

Race Two

It was another clean start for all three drivers as they dove into the first corner, but contact from Kevin Gleason on Afanayasev would see him drop from P5 down to P9. Both Gené and Oriola made it through unscathed and moved up into P4 and P5 respectively.

Oriola was now behind Gené and followed close for some clean racing between teammates. By lap six, Oriola had made his move into P3 with Gené now in P4 just behind. Teammate, Afanaysev, had been fighting hard to gain back positions and came out triumphant after a battle with the Hondas, moving up to P7.

All three drivers settled into a rhythm and continued to push, but on lap eight, Lorenzo Veglia lunged up the inside of Gené going down towards turn one where he then cut the chicane. When Veglia rejoined the track he cut across the front of Gené, giving him nowhere to go but into the rear of his car. Gené made contact with Veglia and received significant damage, causing the Spanish touring car expert to pit and replace a punctured tyre. Veglia would later receive a drive through penalty for his actions.

Oriola was still running strong in P3 on lap ten when Belicchi ran wide, allowing Oriola to move up into P2, but Morbidelli was right on his tail trying to snatch the position away. Oriola defended and managed to keep him at bay, while his teammate Afanaysev continued his march up the order and was now in P5.

While Oriola was defending from Morbidelli on lap 13, it was Afanaysev who began to attack the Italian from P4. The Russian driver looking down the inside for a way around but couldn’t quite close the gap. From here to the chequered flag, Oriola would be able to open up a slight gap on Morbidelli, while Afanaysev did all he could to find a way around. In the end, it was Oriola who would take P2, with his Russian teammate behind in P4, while Gené did his best once out of the pits he finished the race in P10.

Results Race Two

1 Michel Nykjær (DEN) SEAT León Target Competition
2 Pepe Oriola (ESP) SEAT León Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL
3 Gianni Morbidelli (ITA) Honda-Civic TCR West Coast Racing
4 Sergey Afanasyev (RUS) SEAT León Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL
5 Andrea Belicchi (ITA) SEAT León Target Competition
10 Jordi Gené (ESP) SEAT León Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil

The pursuit of the inaugural TCR international title would not be possible without the support of LUKOIL, Gravity, Team Dynamics and Orangebus.

Qualifying Quotes

Pepe Oriola, #74 Driver

“Good qualifying but we expected a bit more after being first in both the free practices. I made a mistake with the gearbox in the first chicane; I went out of turn two with one more gear, so I messed up there. Then in turn five, I went a little wide so I lost some more time, which would have been the two tenths I missed from pole. Bit disappointed but as we saw from Monza, anything can happen.

Sergey Afanaysev, #77 Driver

“It was a very special qualifying, it was pretty tight so it was important to give the guys the tow, I am really glad that I could help my teammates out. It was my first time doing this and my aim was to be closer to P10 for the reverse grid but I ended up P6. So anyway, I am glad and the team has done such a fantastic job, they had so much work to do between Monza and the Salzburgring and they managed really well.”

Jordi Gené, #88 Driver

“Quite good qualifying sessions, it’s really close so far and considering I have 20 kg of ballast, I have to say that I was close to maximum performance of the car, we have been working hard all weekend with the engineers to get the best setup and also to improve my driving skills on the circuit. We put it all together in one lap and it paid off, it’s just a shame there are two Hondas on the front row but we are quick and we are constant so it looks good this weekend.”

Race One Quotes

Pepe Oriola, #74 Driver

“Race one was messy again, with some contact in turn one, then on lap nine I had contact with Morbidelli so there was some damage to my car but I was still able to finish the race.”

Sergey Afanaysev, #77 Driver

“Race one was a bit of a mess as I had to start from P11 after the grid penalty. Overall, it was quite a good race, very safe. The start went well I went on the outside and took some positions and continued fighting from there. It is not an easy circuit to overtake on, I caught up to Pepe and tried to pass him on the last lap and made a mistake and ended up losing a place, so I finished P8. Still happy with this, and I collected some points.”

Jordi Gené, #88 Driver

“Well not the weekend I expected, although the first race was good with P4, so I scored some points to keep me in close contention with Pepe.”

Race Two Quotes

Pepe Oriola, #74 Driver

“Race two was a really good race, we had the pace and we just had to wait for people to make mistake and profit from that situation. I am happy because the championship is still close and we are only half way through the season.”

Sergey Afanaysev, #77 Driver

“There was more pressure in race two as I was starting from the front, I went ok on the start but the main problem for me was in the first chicane it felt as though the car got stuck in neutral, thanks to Gleason I got hit in the back and the car went into gear. I then started gaining positions back with a lot of overtaking and to end up in P4 was great. We still need to push more and continue to score points.”

Jordi Gené, #88 Driver

“Second race looked good in the beginning but two incidents, one with cominni when he had a problem on the brakes and once with veglia when two cars stopped on the chicane, I couldn’t avoid them and this ruined my chances in the second race. The good thing is that no one scored a lot of points this weekend, and I scored a few of them so we are still in contention for the championship.”

Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing

“It was another high speed circuit where we expected another strong challenge from the Hondas. The team did a great job this weekend and it was good to see Pepe Oriola on the podium with his teammates right behind him scoring a good amount of championship points. It was a shame that Jordi Gené had some bad luck with contact which forced him out of the points in race two but it is now time for the team to have a well-deserved break before we head to Sochi in Russia.”

Drivers’ Championship Points

1. Gianni Morbidelli 175 pt.
2. Stefano Comini 157 pt.
3. Pepe Oriola 153 pt.
4. Jordi Gené 134 pt.
5. Kevin Gleason 127 pt.
8. Sergey Afanasyev 55 pt.

Teams’ Championship Points

1. Target Competition 361 pt.
2. WestCoast Racing 332 pt.
3. Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil 328 pt.