Photo: TCR Media

Roberto Colciago wins spectacular Sepang Race 1

Roberto Colciago won the first race of the weekend for Honda at Sepang, Malaysia, after an exciting fight with new championship leader Stefano Comini in the Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf. James Nash lost the championship lead, but finished third to complete the podium in his Craft-Bamboo SEAT. Colciago is under investigation for an incorrect start box position.

Drama started even before the formation lap, as Gianni Morbidelli had to stay in the pits and was not able to take his WestCoast Racing Honda Civic TCR to the starting grid. At the start Mikhail Grachev was the fastest off the line, the Russian taking the lead from third despite Colciago’s aggressive defense.

Pepe Oriola had a bad getaway and slipped down to fifth, while Colciago attacked Grachev and too his lead back at Turn 2. Comini overtook Grachev for second at Turn 6. Meanwhile Andy Yan was the protagonist of an accident at the second corner, the Team Engstler driver ending up on the grass on the inside. The subsequent contacts and chaos meant the safety car was deployed. Colciago was in the lead ahead of Comini, Grachev, Mat’o Homola, Oriola, Nash, Jean-Karl Vernay and Dusan Borkovic.

Right after the restart Oriola and Homola made contact, the Slovakian ending up on the grass and losing places. Comini pulled off a great move on Colciago at the last corner and briefly took the lead, as the Target Competition driver passed back at Turn 1.

On lap six there was more contact as Grachev defended from a train of cars including Oriola. The Russian came out worse, as he had to retire due to the damage. The mayhem also allowed Nash to get up to third, ahead of Vernay, Oriola and Borkovic. The Spaniard managed to overtake Vernay on lap seven and started attacking his team-mate and championship rival Nash, but the Brit resisted until the end of the race.

Meanwhile Colciago and Comini were in a battle all race long, the Swiss following the Italian very closely. The last lap saw an exciting battle between the two, which included a bit of rubbing at the last corner, but the TCR Italy champion managed to stay ahead of the Leopard Racing Golf to take his maiden TCR International Series win.

Comini came second ahead of title rivals James Nash and Pepe Oriola. Jean-Karl Vernay came home fifth ahead of B3 Racing’s Dusan Borkovic and Attila Tassi. Kevin Gleason finished eighth in the sole WestCoast Racing Honda, ahead of Craft-Bamboo’s Sergey Afanasyev, while Mat’o Homola completed the top ten in the B3 Racing SEAT.

Kevin Tse won the TCR Asia race in his Teamwork Volkswagen Golf, ahead of Volkswagen drivers Andy Yan and Felipe Da Souza. Sepang marks Tse’s maiden win in the series.

Comini is now one point ahead of Nash in the championship, with Pepe Oriola a further 15 points behind. Vernay is still in fourth, 32 points behind Comini.