Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil is fired up and ready to extend their lead in both the drivers’ and teams’ championships at the historic Imola Circuit on Sunday. Pepe Oriola has regained his title lead and is now followed by his teammate, James Nash, who trails the Spaniard by only two points. Sergey Afanasyev is still within reach of the top spot in P6 and a good weekend at the Italian circuit could see him back at the pointy end of the table. Imola is new for the 2016 season and the trio of drivers will be focused on quickly learning the circuit and fine tuning their setup to maximize their chances of a solid qualifying performance. With all sessions squeezed into one day, the pressure will be on but Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil is ready to come out on top once again.
Nash showed another strong performance in Belgium and despite being hit towards the end of race one, he was still able to score enough points to move into P2 in the championship. He will be without any ballast this weekend and this should give him a good shot at snatching the lead from season rival, Oriola. With the competition heating up between the two teammates, Imola should provide an exciting showdown to see who gains the edge in the championship. With Nash showing incredible form since the start of his inaugural TCR season and carrying no ballast, he is surely the one to look out for.
Oriola was able to come away from Spa with the championship lead but also with 20kg of success ballast. He hasn’t competed at Imola before but has been putting in hours of simulator time to ensure that he is up to the challenge. Hoping that his preparation pays off, Oriola will be making a strong push in qualifying to get a head start on his opponents and to counteract his 20kg weight penalty.
While scoring consistent points in Spa, Afanasyev will be looking to bounce back and get his championship campaign reignited here at Imola. The Russian’s race pace has been on the mark in every round and with a return to his early season qualifying form, Afanasyev could pull off a win at the Italian circuit. With a very short time between races, drivers will have to be careful to avoid contact in race one to ensure the car is in good condition to challenge for the podium in race two.
Timetable – Local Time (GMT +2)
Sunday 22nd of May
09.00 – 10.00 TCR International Series Free Practice
11.30 – 11.50 TCR International Series Qualifying (Q1)
11.55 – 12.05 TCR International Series Qualifying (Q2)
14:15 - 14:45 TCR International Series Race 1 (standing start) 13 Laps
15:30 - 16:00 TCR International Series Race 2 (standing start) 13 Laps
James Nash, #54 Driver
“I can’t wait to visit this famous track and it will be exciting to drive it for the first time. I feel we have lost a little to the Hondas and we are still hopeful that the VW’s will have a change of BoP. The event being one day will play into the hands of the stronger teams like Craft-Bamboo Lukoil. It’s not ideal but it’s going to be very exciting."
Pepe Oriola, #74 Driver
"Let’s see how the 20kg affects us at Imola. I have never raced at this track before but I have been doing a lot of work in the sim to prepare for this weekend so I am hopeful that I will be competitive.”
Sergey Afanasyev, #77 Driver
“I am really excited to compete at Imola and this weekend I will be really focused on perfecting my starts in both races. I am still close in the championship and with a good weekend here I can get back into the fight.”
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“We will be pushing hard this weekend to ensure that we widen the gap and this will start with our qualifying performance. The field is very competitive this year and we need another good weekend of consistent points to secure our position at the top of the championship.”