Jonathan Giacon takes maiden win after Honda switch at Imola

Jonathan Giacon has won his first race in the TCR Italy series at Imola, after his Tecnodom Racing team made the switch to Honda this weekend, holding off the MM Motorsport Honda Civic of Eric Scalvini, while brother Kevin Giacon completed the podium as the big guest names in the race didn’t’ make the finish.

Nicola Baldan had started from pole in the Pit Lane Competizione SEAT, but from the right-hand side of the track, Giacon and the Subaru of Stefano Comini had better starts and were quickly up ahead of the SEAT.

The safety car was soon out after the V-Action Alfa Romeo of Giacomo Altoè ended up in the barriers at Tamburello, after he was tipped into pole-sitter Nicola Baldan’s SEAT by the Kraf Racing Audi RS 3 LMS of Plamen Kralev.

Jonathan Giacon was now in the lead ahead of Stefano Comini in the Top Run Subaru WRX STi, with the Swiss driver aggressive at the restart on lap four, challenging the Honda for the lead, but soon slid wide and fell behind the MM Motorsport Honda of Eric Scalvini and the Audi of Kralev.

Kralev and Comini were then locked into a two-lap battle, with the Bulgarian and Swiss driver making regular contact, but Comini’s race ended on lap five after he went wide off the circuit and scooped a load of grass up into the WRX’s radiator and had to retire.

Nicola Baldan was now promoted to fourth, but the championship leader was soon heading down the pit lane to serve a jump start penalty, and rejoined at the back of the field, promoting Kevin Giacon to fourth in the Gruppo Piloti Forlivesi Opel Astra TCR.

The Opel driver was now fighting to hold back the sole remaining Alfa Romeo of Joakim Darbom, who was making his TCR Italy touring car championship debut this weekend, with VFR Racing’s Finlay Crocker just behind.

Plamen Kralev was closing down on the two leading Hondas in his Audi RS 3 LMS, but the Bulgarian was hit with a stop-and-go penalty, which dropped him down the order, eventually opting to retire from the race.

The fight for the lead then began to hot up during the last half of the race, as Jonathan Giacon defended lap after lap against Scalvini’s identical Honda Civic, but Giacon was able to hold on to the end to score his first victory in TCR Italy at the Imola circuit, with Scalvini having to settle for second, but crucially launching himself into the lead of the drivers’ championship, with rival Baldan finishing down in 11th.

Kevin Giacon finished third, while an ill-fated passing move by Darbom on Giacon’s Opel on the final lap saw the Swede lose a position to Crocker’s Honda.

Darbom therefore finished fifth, with Max Mugelli’s Pit Lane Competizioni Audi in sixth, ahead of Giuseppe Montalbano’s SEAT.

Massimiliano Gagliano was eighth in his Volkswagen Golf, ahead of Alex Campini’s SEAT, with Daniele Verrocchio’s SEAT completing the top ten.

Race 2 is scheduled for 11:05 CET on Sunday, with Nicola Baldan again set to start from pole position.