Stefano Comini dominates Sepang Race 1
Stefano Comini took a dominant win in his Target Competition SEAT León racer. The Swiss took the lead at the end of the first lap and never left it, coming home ahead of stablemates Pepe Oriola and Sergey Afanasyev, who conquered the final podium spot.
At the start Franz Engstler, Andrea Belicchi and René Munnich all had good getaways, but just under braking at the first corner the Italian and the Honda driver went wide, leaving the lead back in the hands of pole sitter Gleason. Stefano Comini was in second ahead of Afanasyev and WestCoast’s Gianni Morbidelli. At the last corner of the opening lap Comini made his move on the American and took the lead.
The subsequent mayhem saw Afanasyev jump up to second ahead of team-mate Oriola, with Gleason and Morbidelli close behind them. Mikhail Grachev was in sixth in the sole surviving Audi TT, as Engstler had stopped earlier, and was under pressure from Belicchi and Gené.
As Oriola pulled out a spectacular move on his team-mate, Grachev suffered from technical issues and was forced to retire, leaving Belicchi in the chase of the pack led by Afanasyev, as Michel Nykjaer won the battle for eighth against fellow SEAT driver Ferenc Ficza.
A fight for third started towards the end of the race, with Afanasyev struggling to defend from Gleason. A mistake from the Craft-Bamboo Lukoil driver at the hairpin saw Gleason close in and start to attack, but during the subsequent fight the pole sitter was overtaken by team-mate Gianni Morbidelli and Target Competition’s Belicchi. Despite trying hard, the SEAT driver could not pass the Honda, but the fight allowed Afanasyev to open a small gap which allowed him to finally keep his podium spot.
Stefano Comini topped an all-SEAT podium, partnered by Oriola and Afanasyev. Morbidelli finished in fourth ahead of Belicchi and Gleason. Jordi Gené came home seventh ahead of Nykjaer, Ficza and Liqui Moli Team Engstler’s Lorenzo Veglia.
Next up for the TCR Series is Race 2, which takes place tomorrow at 12.35 local time.