Go back

2 of 68

Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil Scores Fantastic Double Podium in Monza

Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil set out to close the championship point gap in Italy this weekend. Fighting hard in both races, the team was able to celebrate with second place finishes in both race one and two on the historic Autodromo di Monza. Pepe Oriola drove an incredible race one where he held the lead for much of the race, but eventually was unable match the top speed of the Honda and had to settle for second place. Race two saw Jordi Gene take a brilliant second place in a highly contested fight, which saw close battles right up until the chequered flag dropped. It was especially impressive as Gené was carrying 30kg of success ballast this weekend, which ultimately hindered his true race pace.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go as well for Sergey Afanasyev, despite a strong P4 qualifying performance on Saturday. Several incidents throughout the race saw the Russian drop down the order, but with fighting spirit he made it back into the top ten by mid-race. However, a three car crash near the end of the race left Afanasyev’s SEAT Leon Cup Racer with too much damage to repair before the start of race two.

Qualifying

Given Monza’s high speed layout, the Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil drivers made sure to work together. Employing slipstreaming tactics, each driver took turns to lead the other, with the trio of drivers making it through first session with ease. Coordinating once again for the second session, the team was able to secure some solid starting positions for race one. Oriola ran a 2:01:121, which netted the young Spanish driver P3, with his teammate Afanaysev just behind in P4 with a 2:01:382. Gené who was carrying the 30kg Success Ballast, finished the second session with a solid 2:01:859, which was good enough for P8 but guaranteed the driver P3 for the start of the second race.

Results

1 Gianni MORBIDELLI - West Coast Racing - 2:00.353 Q2
2 Stefano COMINI - Target Competition - 2:01.080 Q2
3 Pepe ORIOLA - Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL - 2:01.121 Q2
4 Sergey AFANASYEV - Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL - 2:01.382 Q2
5 Andrea BELICCHI - Target Competition - 2:01.762 Q2
8 Jordi GENÉ - Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL - 2:01.859 Q2

Race One

The lights went out and Oriola made a great start from P2, squeezing up the middle and darting into the first chicane to take P1. Fellow Spaniard Gené had also made a good getaway, moving up three places to take P5, but teammate Afanaysev wasn’t so lucky, dropping down to P11 after a poor start. However, Afanaysev started to mount his comeback immediately, steadily moving up the field throughout the race.

Oriola was making the most of his time in P1, stretching out his lead early on with a gap of 0.801s over P2 in a commanding display of driving. Gené set his sights on P4 and began to chip away, sector by sector, his teammate Afanaysev was also hard at work, chasing down and capturing P9 on lap seven.

Oriola pushed as hard as possible to retain the lead but could no longer hold off Morbidelli on the long straights. After a great display of tenacious and defensive driving, he dropped back a position into P2 but continued applying pressure. Gené’s consistent race pace was proving successful as he managed to snatch P4. His teammate was also carving up the field, picking off competitors and moving into P8.

However, on lap ten the Russian’s hard work would be destroyed once again by contact with another driver. In this instance, he made contact with Grachev and was sent careening into Nykjaer, all three suffering race ending damage. This incident would be extremely costly for Sergey, with the damage unable to be repaired before the second race later that day.

Gené was hot on the tail of Belicchi and on the start-finish straight of the penultimate lap he made a daring challenge but was unable to get by. Gené made multiple attempts to get past in a nail biting last lap of racing, but his 30kg Success Ballast prevented him from taking the position.
After a strong challenge, Oriola was the first Craft-Bamboo Lukoil car over the line, taking the second step on the podium. His compatriot, Gené was not far behind and scored a well-deserved P4 after a brilliant march up the order.

Results Race One

Gianni Morbidelli – West Coast Racing
Pepe Oriola – Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil
Andrea Belicchi – Target Competition
Jordi Gené – Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil
Fernando Monje – Campos Racing
DNF – Sergey Afanaysev - Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil

Race Two

Gené lined up on the grid in P2 due to Grachev missing the start, and when the race began, he got off to a flying start taking P1 after the first chicane. His teammate, Oriola, started from P6 and was instantly thrust into the action, diving into the first corner and starting his charge up the field.

Gené was fighting to stay ahead and was using all of his defensive skills to remain at the front, but by the start-finish straight he could no longer hold onto P1. Not giving up, Gené would use the slip stream advantage to continue pressuring the driver ahead, but while doing so came under attack from Morbidelli. Gené’s battle with the Italian continued, holding him off at every corner but it was becoming increasingly difficult. Eventually, Gené had to concede, Morbidelli was just too fast on the straights and he ended up losing his hard fought position and dropped back to P3.

Oriola was battling hard and was able to take a position to move into P5 by the end of lap three. He found himself trapped in numerous mid-field scraps, constantly changing positions with those around him as he fought to claim valuable championship points.

Once again though, it was the Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil drivers that would become the target for unwarranted contact. Oriola was forced off the track on lap seven and into the gravel, this would not only cause him to lose valuable positions but would end his crucial challenge to take the drivers’ championship lead by forcing his retirement due to damage.

It was only Gené who remained and he was displaying some superb driving, moving back up through the field and into P3 on the second last lap. With a final push, Gené, took P2 on the final lap’s first chicane and from there held off numerous advances from the driver behind him. This result would make it a Team Craft-Bamboo double podium for the weekend, after Gené crossed the line in second place.

Results Race Two
Gianni Morbidelli – West Coast Racing
Jordi Gené – Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil
Fernando Monje – Campos Racing
Stefano Comini – Target Competition
Andrea Belicchi – Target Competition
DNS – Sergey Afanaysev - 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.

Race One Quotes

Pepe Oriola, #74 Driver

“I am happy because I could dedicate my podium in the first race to my sisters in Nepal who have survived the earthquakes. They are living a difficult life in a country that is totally devastated. I hope that the international help and support will arrive soon.”

Sergey Afanaysev, #77 Driver

“That was a very difficult weekend and the team did amazing job to help me to get to p4 in qualifying, but in the race a lot of things went wrong. We need to keep working hard to achieve the results we are capable of.”

Jordi Gené, #88 Driver

“I am happy with my weekend, it was typical Monza, with tow strategy for qualifying and very exciting races on Sunday, I am happy with my results considering I was carrying 30 kg ballast. With a 4th and a 2nd place I scored lots of points and a podium finish also helped the team in the championship standings.”

Race Two Quotes

Pepe Oriola, #74 Driver

“I have took a lot of risks at the start of the first race but in the second I could not repeat it. The races are now very aggressive because we are now half way through the season so everyone is really competitive, but we will keep fighting for the championship.”

Sergey Afanaysev, #77 Driver

DNS

Jordi Gené, #88 Driver

“In Race 2 I had a good position but it was impossible to stay ahead without tow. Fernando (Monje) had a good car and I couldn’t stop him from overtaking me, but it was important to stay with the pack, so I didn’t lose too much time, and I was able to do so. I still managed to keep in touch with the group and then I used the slipstream, and it paid off. I just wanted a good bunch of points and I found myself on the podium, which was great, because we were absolutely not the favourites for this race.”

Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing

“We knew the Hondas would be strong here and they were, but all three of our drivers did a fantastic job this weekend and two podiums is a great result. However, it is disappointing once again that we were prevented from collecting the points we deserved with contact that is easily avoided.”

Drivers’ Championship

1 - Gianni Morbidelli - 146 pt.
2 - Stefano Comini - 132 pt.
3 - Pepe Oriola - 125 pt.
4 - Jordi Gené - 120 pt.
5 - Andrea Belicchi - 102 pt.
8 - Sergey Afanasyev - 39 pt.

Teams’ Championship

1 - Target Competition - 290 pt.
2 - Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil - 275 pt.
3 - WestCoast Racing - 265 pt.