Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil went 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 fifth 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.
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
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 P11.
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