Photo: TCR Middle East

Giacomo Altoè wins the first round of the 2018 TCR Middle East in Abu Dhabi

17-year-old Italian Giacomo Altoè has won the first round of the 2018 TCR Middle East series in Abu Dhabi, leading a Pit Lane Competizioni 1-2 with fellow TCR International Series regular Mat’o Homola finishing in second position.

Altoè launched into the lead from pole, while Homola got the jump on the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR of Luca Engstler to move into second in his DSG-equipped Golf.

Engstler was now down to third, with team-mate Florian Thoma just behind, as the top four began to break away from the fifth-placed Pit Lane Audi RS 3 of Giacomo’s older brother Giovanni, who’d made up two spots at the start.

The third Engstler Volkswagen of Kai Jordan soon overtook Altoè’s Audi for fifth on the second lap, and now led the second train of cars as the top four pulled away.

Homola kept race leader Giacomo Altoè in check, staying just a second behind the young Italian, with the battling Engstler Motorsport pair just behind, while Lorenzo Veglia, in another Pit Lane Competizioni-entered Volkswagen, slowly worked his way up the order, going from eighth to fifth, making his final pass on Jordan’s Golf on lap 11.

Altoè went on to win the race by 1.7 seconds clear over Homola, with Luca Engstler completing the podium. Giacomo Altoè now leads the standings on 30 points, nine ahead of Homola.

The second race of the weekend gets underway at 14:28 local time (11:28 CET), with Greek driver Costas Papantonis starting on pole on the reversed grid in his SEAT, ahead of the two Pit Lane entries of ALberto Vescovi and Lorenzo Veglia.