Harald Procyzk reclaims points lead with victory in opening Hockenheim race
Harald Procyzk claimed a straightforward lights-to-flag victory in the opening TCR Germany Touring Car Championship race of the weekend at Hockenheim to retake the lead of the championship with just one race remaining.
The HP Racing Opel Astra TCR driver headed Mike Halder’s Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR and main title rivals Luca Engstler and Niels Langeveld to take a four-point lead over Engstler into tomorrow’s final race of the season.
Engstler had initially got the jump on pole-sitter Procyzk off the line to lead into the first corner, but Engstler in his Hyundai i30 N TCR lost out under braking for Turn 2.
Procyzk then built a comfortable three-second advantage over Halder, who managed to squeeze past Engstler on entry to Turn 6 on the second lap, but two subsequent safety car interventions forced Procyzk to perfect a pair of restarts in the closing stages, which he did.
Dutchman Langeveld in the Racing One Audi RS 3 LMS struggled to match the pace of Procyzk, Halder and Engstler early on and slipped into the clutches of Max Hesse’s PROsport Performance Audi RS 3 LMS.
Langeveld, who failed to make the podium for the first weekend of the season last time out at the Sachsenring, then had to battle hard with the LMS Racing Audi RS 3 LMS of Finnish driver Antti Buri.
Buri made significant progress from 11th on the grid to run fifth, before launching an attack on Langeveld following the first safety car period to recover Jasmin Preisig’s stranded Opel Astra TCR on the exit of Turn 2.
Upon resumption, Engstler came under attack from Langeveld and Buri into the hairpin, with Hesse tagging the back of Engstler Hyundai as the quartet jostled for space.
Engstler, unsettled by the contact, lost out to Langeveld on exit and dropped behind the Dutchman into Turn 5 before reclaiming the position on the inside of Turn 8.
Further back, Buri was passed by the Cupra of Pascal Eberle at the same corner and. Buri then fought back but hit the rear of Eberle approaching the Sachs Curve, sending the Swiss driver into a half spin and forcing his own Audi RS 3 LMS into the gravel, prompting another safety car.
Procyzk was peerless at the restart once more and headed Halder and Engstler to the line, with Langeveld fourth.
Hesse, who had run as high as fifth, dropped back down to ninth in his PROsport Audi.
Max Kruse Racing’s Benjamin Leuchter finished fifth ahead of Eberle and Frenchman Théo Coicaud in the second of Hyundai Team Engstler’s i30 N TCRs.
Lukas Niedertscheider claimed eighth in the Peugeot 308TCR, while Finnish driver Niko Kankkunen rounded out the top ten in the Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.
Having entered the weekend four points clear of Procyzk, Engstler now trails by the same margin heading into tomorrow’s finale. Langeveld remains an outside bet for the title, while Mike Halder is now out of contention.
The second TCR Germany championship race at Hockenheim is scheduled to take place on Sunday at 14:50 CEST.