Photo: ACI Sport

Nicola Baldan takes lights-to-flag win at Monza

Nicola Baldan encored at Monza, leading the entire race in his Pit Lane Competizioni SEAT. The Veneto-based driver came home ahead of title rival Eric Scalvini, with Massimiliano Gagliano taking his second career podium in TCR Italy by finishing third.

At the start Baldan took the lead from pole position, as a good getaway from Scalvini was hampered by Kevin Giacon’s poor start. Plamen Kralev was third behind Scalvini and ahead of Giacon, with Simon Reicher in fifth right behind them.

Early in the race the most spectacular fight was for eighth, as a scrap between Audi’s Enrico Bettera and the two SEATs of Andrea Argenti and Matteo Bergonzini followed him closely. Meanwhile Giacon got closer and closer to Kralev, making his move stick at the first chicane on the seventh lap, jumping up to third. More drama in the battle for eighth resolved in Bettera retiring due to an electrical problem, after Bergonzini overtook both the Audi and Argenti’s SEAT.

Drama was everything but over, as on lap 11 Gagliano attacked Mugelli and Reicher, who were fighting for fifth place. The two were involved in a close battle in the short straight between Roggia and Lesmo 1, Gagliano passing serenely on the outside and launching himself in the hunt for Kralev’s fourth place.

That became the battle for third as Giacon suffered from another violent puncture, this time just outside the Parabolica. By then Gagliano was all over the back of his Bulgarian rival, who did not resist the pressure and made a mistake out of Lesmo 2. The Volkswagen driver was through, but Max Mugelli couldn’t avoid his stable-mate and cannoned into him, thus inflicting terminal damage to his RS 3 LMS. Reicher took advantage of the fight and overtook both drivers.

There was more drama as Kralev overtook Reicher and tried to attack Gagliano on the last lap, but he cut the chicane instead, which allowed his Austrian stable-mate back through.

Baldan won the race, making up another five points on title rival Scalvini. Gagliano finished third in his Pit Lane Competizioni Volkswagen, ahead of Reicher and Kralev. Matteo Bergonzini finished a lonely sixth in his BF Racing SEAT, ahead of stable-mates Andrea Argenti and Daniele Cappellari. Andrea Mosca came ninth in his Honda Civic TCR ahead of BF Racing’s Vincenzo Montalbano, who closed the top ten.

TCR Italy will be back on track at Mugello on July, 16th.