Photo: ACI Sport

Massively improved grid for TCR Italy at Adria season opener

After an intense winter, TCR Italy is finally back on track with a significant increase in grid numbers, which was an issue last year. The series has had a successful off-season and is now ready for the curtain raiser, which is scheduled for this weekend at Adria, in Veneto.

A provisional entry list has 14 TCR cars, with three TCT cars making it a total of 17 cars on the grid. Audi, Honda, Opel, Volkswagen and SEAT will all be represented, with Alfa Romeo set to join the party at Misano, the second round of the championship, which is scheduled for next month. A mixture of experienced drivers and upcoming talents is expected to make for a good show.

Based on their racing pedigree, four drivers have to be considered among the favourites for the title battle. Nicola Baldan, a former race winner in the EuroV8 Series, joins the championship with Pit Lane Competizioni after having won the SEAT León Cupra Cup Italy. The driver has backing from SEAT Motorsport Italia and will surely be a strong contender for race wins and the ultimate glory. Adria is also his home track, as Baldan owns a karting circuit in Chioggia, not too far from the track.

His main rival will probably share the garage with him, as Max Mugelli, another V8 veteran, will be at the wheel of an Audi RS 3 LMS, also run by Pit Lane Competizioni. The Tuscany-based driver is very talented and experienced and, despite lacking a bit of recent experience with front wheel-driven cars, he will surely get to grips with the new machinery quite quickly and be a strong contender.

Eric Scalvini will also be on track in the MM Motorsport Honda Civic TCR. Having been a protegé of Baldan earlier in his career, the former Porsche Scholarship junior has enjoyed some success in Abarth one-make series. After a disappointing experience with the German GTs, Scalvini is back in touring cars and will want to prove he is competitive from the word go.

Johnatan Giacon was Baldan’s main rival for the León Cup title last year, and will now be on the grid at the wheel of the sole Opel Astra TCR. The Tecnodom Sport team is his family’s operation, which also ran him last year, so he knows the structure inside out. His father Domiziano will also be on track, sharing a SEAT with Silvano Bolzoni.

The 2017 TCR Italy promises to be exciting to watch, with several drivers expected to challenge for wins and more drivers who could occasionally raise a few eyebrows.

The weekend will start on Friday afternoon, with half an hour of free practice schedule at 16.00 local time. The second session is scheduled for 18.30, also lasting 30 minutes. The two qualifying session, scheduled for Saturday morning, will last 15 minutes, starting at 10.50 and 11.15 respectively. The first session will determine the grid for the first race, which starts at 18.10 on Saturday. The second heat’s grid will be determined by the second segment, the race starting at 10.30 on Sunday.

The separated qualifyings and races allow for cars to be shared, an opportunity exploited by Vincenzo and Giuseppe Montalbano, as well as Niccolò Zin and Alessandro Thellung, both pairs at the wheel of a SEAT León run by BF Racing. Domiziano Giacon will share his SEAT with Silvano Bolzoni, as will the Nos Racing – Ermete duo composed by Nello Nataloni and Massimiliano Chini.