Photo: TCR Media

Jordi Gené leads Craft-Bamboo Lukoil 1-2

Craft-Bamboo Lukoil Racing dominated the first race in Sochi, Russia, with Jordi Gené leading home team-mate Pepe Oriola. Andrea Belicchi completed the podium for Target Competition.

At the start Jordi Gené retained the lead, with team-mate Oriola jumping up to second ahead of Belicchi. Behind them came local man Mikhail Grachev, ahead of Stefano Comini, Tomas Engström and Michel Nykjaer, as Sergey Afanasyev, Gianni Morbidelli and Kevin Gleason completed the top ten.

Action began immediately, as Nykjaer was soon passed by Afanasyev and Morbidelli. In the first few laps Grachev pushed on Belicchi to try to overtake him, but probably asked too much from his tyres, as later on in the race he struggled to keep up with his early pace.

A fight between Afanasyev and Engström led the Swede to slipping down to ninth as the Russian went up to sixth. Later on, Grachev finally slipped down to sixth behind fellow Russian Sergey Afanasyev, triggering an intense fight which would last for the entire race.

Morbidelli managed to overtake Nykjaer, who was also attacked by Engström, but the Swede often surpassed track limits. A contact between the fighting Grachev and Afanasyev led Morbidelli to almost passing the Liqui Moly Team Engstler driver, but Grachev was able to defend.

A last lap contact between Engström and Nykjaer closed the race in action, with Gleason climbing up to eighth, taking advantage of the incident.

Jordi Gené won the race ahead of Pepe Oriola, with Target Competition’s Andrea Belicchi in third. Team-mate Stefano Comini came fourth ahead of Sergey Afanasyev, with local man Mikhail Grachev in sixth.

Gianni Morbidelli and Kevin Gleason made it home seventh and eighth respectively, the two WestCoast Racing man finishing ahead of Target Competition’s Michel Nykjaer and TCR rookie Tomas Engström. The last lap incident between the Dane and the Liqui Moly Team Engstler is under investigation by the stewards.

The results leave Morbidelli still in the lead, although his advantage is cut down to seven points, with Pepe Oriola jumping up to second, five points ahead of Stefano Comini. Jordi Gené is now just five points behind the Swiss, with Andrea Belicchi 18 points adrift.