Tough fights in penultimate round of National Touring Cars
National Touring Cars paid a second visit to Concordia for the penultimate round of the 2014 season. Hanna Abdallah claimed the honors of the main race and won his fourth race of the season, claiming the championship lead from Lucas Mohamed.
Maximiliano Fontana put his Fiat Palio on pole position for the first time in class 2 with a 1:53.094 lap. But the following day he was not able to complete the first heat’s six laps due to technical issues and a door which started failed to remain closed. Instead, Abdallah won, with Amadís Farina and Federico Alonso in second and third.
The main event of 15 laps also belonged to Abdallah. He took the lead and was chased by Farina and Alonso. After the first safety car, the first two drivers got away from the rest of the 45 participants. A second safety car session occurred as Mohamed, driving a Volkswagen Gol, had a clash with Matías Vidal. Despite that, Mohamed recovered to a podium finish by getting third in the closing lap when he overtook the Renault Clio of Emiliano Giacoponi.
Abdallah is now on top of the championship with 252 points, followed by Mohamed on 246 points and Adrián Percaz on 218 points, who remains in the title hunt despite finishing out of the top ten in this race.
Newcomer Pablo Merayo claimed the Class 3 pole position in his Mitsubishi Lancer with a 1:50.258 lap. He claimed pole by one of the largest margins so far this season with a 0.665 margin to reigning champion Facundo Chapur, driving a Peugeot 308.
Merayo won the first heat on Sunday ahead of Chapur and the second works Peugeot of local driver Mariano Werner. Werner started from second position and claimed the lead from Merayo on the first lap. In the middle of the grid, another Mitsubishi driver in the form of Juan Pablo Koch, stalled, got stuck and was first hit by the Ford Focus of Matías Machuca and then, in a heavier impact, by the Chevrolet Cruze of Juan Pipkin.
As the race resumed, Jonatan Castellano overtook Pablo Merayo in his Chevrolet Vectra for second position. But in the fight, they cut the chicane too hard. Castellano went off the track briefly and the move meant the advantage of Diego Mungi and Facundo Chapur, earning valuable points as a consequence.
Merayo charged back towards the end of the race and was able to attack Werner for the lead. Some tight moves and slight contact between them were the delight of the spectators. The Peugeot driver finally got past to claim his first win in a category in which he is doing his first season.
Werner headed to this race weekend in fifth of the championship standings, but has now jumped to third with after his popular victory to the local crowd.
Newcomer Merayo was an impressive second, while the young Mungi was also outstanding by getting his third podium of the 2014 season. In the other factory Citroën, Matías Rossi had what was arguably his unluckiest weekend so far. A broken engine in the first race meant he had to start from the back of the grid with extra weight only to retire from the main race with a flat front right tyre and a punctured radiator.
His main rival in the series, Facundo Chapur looked initially to be far better off by finishing fifth, gaining to be just seven points behind championship leader Rossi. However, the stewards awarded him a five-second penalty after the race for stalling on the grid which saw him fall to ninth in the results.
TN resumes at Olavarría on December 14th.