Michel Nykjaer wins in Portugal in drama-hit second race
Michel Nykjaer took his first win of the 2015 TCR International Series in Portimao, after having to fight off Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Kelvin van der Linde for almost half the race, benefitting as both the Audis ran into trouble late in the race.
Nykjaer’s Target Competition SEAT had been damaged at the start of the first race during a collision with team-mate Andrea Belicchi, and the team had worked hard to repair it for the start of race two. The team completed a full radiator change during the repair time to allow the Dane to get out to take his front-row start behind WestCoast Racing’s Kevin Gleason.
This was vital as Nykjaer was able to get the lead from Gleason into Turn 1, while team-mate Stefano Comini was up to third.
The Audis were soon charging through the order however, with Kelvin van der Linde up to third passing Comini on the straight at the start of lap three. The South African closed on the rear of Nykjaer’s car, but the Dane was able to hold off the Audi for almost ten laps before the two were joined by Nicki Thiim’s Audi, who had finally made his way through the field.
WestCoast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli was eliminated from the race on the second lap in an incident with Engstler’s Lorenzo Veglia, while all the remaining drama was contained within the last few laps. Thiim hit the kerbs too hard in the Audi whilst fighting team-mate van der Linde for second and pitted with a puncture, while van der Linde’s car stopped out on circuit on the same lap.
With two laps to go, Comini, now third, spun in front of Craft-Bamboo’s Pepe Oriola due to a developing puncture, which in turn held up the other Craft-Bamboo SEAT of Jordi Gené allowing Andrea Belicchi through into third.
The Italian would stop right at the finish line however with a puncture of his own, surrendering the final podium spot to Gené, while Comini would carry on to finish 11th and out of the points.
Comini still leads the standings on 116 points, with Oriola now on 104, Morbidelli on 91 and Gené now on 90 heading to the next round in two weeks time at Monza.