Kevin Gleason wins in Sepang as Stefano Comini loses second through penalty

Kevin Gleason took his first win of the season at Sepang, Malaysia. The WestCoast Racing driver finished ahead of Craft-Bamboo’s James Nash, who inherited second as Leopard Racing’s Stefano Comini was awarded a 30-second penalty, which dropped him out of the points. Gianni Morbidelli completed the podium for WestCoast Racing.

At the start of the formation lap, Nicky Pastorelli’s Ford Focus TCR had an engine problem, which spilled oil onto the grid and forced race control to abort the original start, with the race eventually starting behind the safety car.

When the race started, pole-sitter Tin Sritrai held the lead, with rival Honda driver Kevin Gleason just behind him. Nash was defending third from Morbidelli and Comini, with the Swiss overtaking the Italian at the last corner. On the third lap the Leopard Racing driver went one further and passed championship rival Nash as well.

On the following lap, Gleason took the lead at the hairpin with a clean move on Sritrai. Just a handful of corners later before the back straight, Comini touched the Thai driver and sent him into a spin, for which he was investigated and penalised with a drive-through penalty later in the race.

WestCoast Racing’s Mikhail Grachev and Target Competition’s Roberto Colciago were fighting closely as the TCR Italy champion tried to overtake the Russian. Multiple contacts at the hairpin caused damage to both Honda Civic TCRs, triggering a brief safety car as Colciago’s car was recovered from the gravel, while Grachev returned to the pits.

By that point, Gleason was leading from Comini, Nash, Morbidelli and Pepe Oriola. At the restart the top positions stayed the same, but more drama was to come on the last lap. B3 Racing’s Dusan Borkovic moved up to fifth, but was quickly passed by Leopard Racing’s Jean-Karl Vernay and Oriola, with Mat’o Homola also in the mix. The Spaniard made contact with Homola, damaging his Lukoil-backed SEAT in the process, and finishing outside the points.

Gleason won ahead of Comini, but the Swiss took his penalty post-race and second was inherited by James Nash. Gianni Morbidelli completed the podium, finishing ahead of Dusan Borkovic and Jean-Karl Vernay. Target Competition’s Loris Hezemans took advantage of the chaos to finish a well-deserved sixth in the Target SEAT ahead of Mat’o Homola’s B3 Racing SEAT, with Craft-Bamboo’s Sergey Afanasyev eighth.

Andy Yan was ninth outright and won the TCR Asia race as well in his Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf, clinching the 2016 title as he is now 66 points ahead of Kevin Tse with 55 left up for grabs. Attila Tassi completed the top ten in the B3 Racing SEAT.

Today’s results mean Comini loses his championship lead to Nash, who is now 17 points ahead of the Swiss going into the Macau season finale. Pepe Oriola is now 33 points off the lead, with Jean-Karl Vernay a further six points back.