Photo: TCR Media

Stefano Comini wins Race 2 in Thailand, Morbidelli out of title contention

Stefano Comini led a Target Competition 1-2 to claim the championship lead back from title rival Pepe Oriola, who came third in his Craft-Bamboo Lukoil SEAT behind Loris Hezemans.

Drama started even before the race as Hugo Valente failed to start. The lead was therefore Comini’s, who claimed to retain it until the end. Behind him Lorenzo Veglia tried to resist the assault of the Craft-Bamboo Lukoil squad, but Pepe Oriola and Jordi Gené were through along with Gianni Morbidelli’s WestCoast Racing Honda.

Morbidelli took advantage of Oriola’s sole mistake during the race and took third, starting to attack Hezemans for second. During the fight, though, Morbidelli lost momentum and was passed again by the Spaniard. Just when the Honda looked set to take third back from the championship leader, the Italian stopped due to a technical problem.

Oriola was therefore able to concentrate on trying to pass Hezemans but, despite the Spaniard’s best efforts and some rubbing, the Dutchman was able to retain second. During the last couple of laps Jordi Gené also joined the fight, but he eventually stayed in fourth, with Lorenzo Veglia finishing a great fifth after another faultless defensive drive from Sergey Afanasyev, who eventually finished seventh behind Tomas Engstrom.

Eight outright was TCR Asia Series winner Tin Sritrai, the local hero coming home ahead of fellow Thai Munkong Sathienthirakul, with Rafael Galiana completing the top ten. Kevin Gleason, who had been a protagonist in Race 1 and in the opening stages of the second heat, retired due to a puncture, and so did fellow WestCoast Racing driver René Munnich, meaning no WCR Honda finished the race. Robb Holland was punished with a black flag after ignoring a drive through penalty he had received earlier. The American actually finished the race despite being disqualified.

Comini is now back in the lead of the championship, two points ahead of Pepe Oriola, with Jordi Gené now 34 points behind the leader and Gianni Morbidelli officially out of contention, 76 points shy of the leader with just 55 left up for grabs.

Next up for the TCR International Series is the season finale in Macau.