Photo: ACI Sport

Salvatore Tavano wins high-attrition race at Vallelunga, closes in on title

SEAT Motorsport Italia’s Salvatore Tavano won the second race of the weekend at Vallelunga from the front row, after a good start allowed the Cupra TCR into the lead and to open a gap. Title rival Luigi Ferrara finished second in his V-Action Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR, the result leaving the Apulia-based driver with a tiny chance to clinch the title at Monza. Federico Paolino completed the podium for BRC Racing Team in his Hyundai i30 N TCR.

At the start Tavano took the lead from pole sitter Max Mugelli’s Honda Civic TCR, ahead of Hyundai drivers Nicola Baldan and Eric Scalvini, as Team Mulsanne’s Kevin Ceccon had a bad start and slipped down to ninth from the second row in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Tavano looked like he had better pace and started to open a gap immediately. On the third lap Scalvini was out of the picture as he had to stop into the pits to change a punctured tyre, which allowed Baldan to focus on trying to overtake Mugelli for second.

Meanwhile Ferrara started making up ground and overtook Enrico Bettera’s Audi on the fifth lap, joining Baldan and Mugelli in the fight for second. On the following lap, though, the race lost another protagonist as Mugelli retired into the pits with a suspected driveshaft failure.

The intense fight for second allowed Race 1 winner Cesar Machado to close in on Baldan and Ferrara, with Ceccon and Bettera also in the mix. On lap 12 Ceccon tapped Machado at Tornantino, which resulted in both of them having to retire within two laps due to punctures.

The strong fight between Baldan and Ferrara was ended on lap 13 as the Alfa Romeo driver pulled off a bold move on the outside at Cimini and overtook the Hyundai. Towards the end of the race there were multiple punctures, including Baldan and Bettera, which meant as few as ten drivers made it to the chequered flag.

Tavano won the race ahead of Ferrara and Paolino. Giovanni Altoè was fourth outright and won the DSG trophy, after Cupra driver Matteo Greco made contact with Bettera at Curvone and had a scary moment trying to rejoin the track with two laps to go, the young Italian still making it to fifth. Andrea Larini was sixth in his Cupra, ahead of DSG trophy drivers Massimilano Gagliano and Peter Gross. Andrea Mosca and Piergiorgio Capra completed the top ten, both at the wheel of DSG-equipped Cupras.

Tavano closed in on the championship with his third win of the season, which brings his advantage over Ferrara to 34.5 points in the championship. However, as only the best 12 results count towards the final classification, that advantage actually shrinks down to 32 points, with 41 up for grabs. A fourth place in the first race at Monza will be enough to crown him Italian champion at the season finale, which takes place on 7th October.