Toyota Team Argentina’s Matías Rossi has won his third TC 2000 drivers’ title and the first for Toyota since 2002 with a lights to flag victory at Paraná, whilst his title rivals were immersed in battles in the field.
The 27-year-old from Buenos Aires set things up perfectly in the morning’s ‘Super 8′ qualifying heat, securing pole position ahead of Chevrolet’s Agustín Canapino for the 29 lap feature race and picking up an additional championship point in the process.
At the start, Rossi held off Canapino for the lead, whilst Mariano Werner had a brilliant start, diving down the inside up to third from seventh on the grid to emerge as the biggest threat to his Toyota team-mate’s title ambitions.
Leonel Pernía had a strong start from 15th, up to ninth on lap two, helped in part by his Equipo Petrobrás Honda team-mates giving way ahead of him. Pernía continued to pick his way up the order, passing Facundo Ardusso’s Peugeot 307 on lap six for seventh place.
Rossi still lead, but was having to defend hard against Canapino’s Chevrolet Cruze, likewise Werner in third was having to keep at bay José María López’s Fiat Linea. López briefly moved up to third on lap 11, but Werner was able to switch back to the inside on the next corner and retake the position.
On lap 15, López and Werner tangled again for third, this time with the two drivers losing ground. Juan Manuel Silva snuck past the pair of them in the Ford-YPF Focus, whilst Christian Ledesma split the sparring duo, moving into fifth place demoting Werner’s Toyota to sixth.
Two laps later, López attacked former team-mate Silva for third, spinning the Ford driver off and down the order.
One lap later the championship challengers made contact, Pernía tapped Werner’s Corolla, sending him off the circuit. The Toyota driver managed to rejoin ahead of Pernía, but the two made contact again with Pernía moving ahead, but Ardusso’s Peugeot, Ponce de León’s Fiat and Silva’s Ford moved ahead in the fracas, with Pernía down to seventh and Werner eighth.
All this was good news for Rossi in the lead, then the safety car was deployed as Mauro Giallombardo’s Renault Lo Jack Team Fluence ground to a halt on lap 19.
At the restart, Rossi held off Canapino’s Chevrolet again, and it turned out the safety car actually helped, bringing José María López into the fight at the front. The Fiat driver took some of Canapino’s attention off of Rossi as the Chevrolet driver was forced to defend his second place as the top three broke away from Facundo Ardusso’s Peugeot.
Pernía and Werner fought hard behind ‘Pato’ Silva’s Ford Focus, and were almost involved in a three car incident after a mistake from Silva on lap 25. Pernía went on to finish seventh with Werner right behind.
Matías Rossi’s third win of the season secured him the TC 2000 title with 197.5 points, with Leonel Pernía finishing second for the second year in a row on 185.5 and Mariano Werner third on 181.5. This is Rossi’s first Championship since taking the 2006-2007 titles with Chevrolet, and Toyota’s first since Norberto Fontana won for them in 2002.
The 2012 season kicks off in Cordoba on 11th March.