Aurélien Comte survives late Mat’o Homola attack to claim first TCR Europe SIM win
Aurélien Comte claimed his maiden TCR Europe SIM Racing victory at a virtual Circuit Paul Ricard, staving off a fierce attack from Mat’o Homola’s Hyundai in the closing stages.
Points leader Dániel Nagy (BRC Racing Hyundai) continued his charge towards the title with his fifth win of the season, while adding a third place in the second race.
Taking place on the Assetto Corsa platform, the evening produced a far better standard of racing than in previous rounds, with the TCR Europe Series’ real racers offering action aplenty.
Nagy again showed his class in qualifying by comfortably claiming pole position ahead of BRC Racing Hyundai team-mate Mat’o Homola.
The pair got off the line well and led Gilles Magnus’ Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS into the first corner, while the Peugeot 308TCR of Jimmy Clairet followed closely behind.
Nagy quickly established a lead over Homola of one-and-a-half seconds, rarely being challenged in the 10-lap encounter. The Hungarian gradually extended his lead to over three seconds by the flag, as Homola came home just ahead of Magnus.
Bence Boldizs endured something of a quiet race in fourth, having made progress at the start and avoiding various contact which affected others behind.
That included Niels Langeveld and Tamás Tenke who finished fifth and sixth respectively despite being involved in a coming together at the first corner on the third lap.
The pair went into the corner three-wide with Jimmy Clairet’s Peugeot, with Clairet tagging the rear of Tenke’s Cupra, sending him across the run-off.
Langeveld maintained his sixth place before eventually getting past the Hungarian, while Clairet finished behind both in seventh after spinning.
Teddy Clairet ended up eighth behind his brother in the second of the Clairet Sport 308TCRs, and ahead of 2018 TCR Europe Series champion Mikel Azcona.
Aurélien Comte finished tenth, ahead of a charging Viktor Davidovski in the Honda Civic Type R FK8.
Andrej Studenic claimed the final points-paying position in 12th, despite contact with Nicolas Baert’s Audi out of the last corner on the final lap, which sent the Belgian out of the race.
Student led initially off the line at the beginning of Race 2 but was soon usurped by a charging Comte on the approach to the second corner.
Azcona then moved up into second place exiting Turn 4 and slight contact from the Honda of Davidovski allowed Homola, who had made a sensational start from 11th on the grid to run third.
Such was Homola’s speed down the Mistral Straight that the Hyundai breezed past Azcona’s Cupra into Signes for second place on lap two of ten.
Azcona, keen to make amends for losing second place to Homola, then clipped a bollard exiting Turn 2 and lost third to Davidovski’s Honda.
The Spaniard, who seemed to struggle for overall grip since the start of the race, then fell behind Nagy who, like Homola, also made a superb start from 12th on the grid.
Homola then latched onto the back of Comte for the lead with three laps remaining, virtually pushing the Peugeot around the Paul Ricard circuit.
Comte maintained his lead but only by a mere tenth of a second heading into the final two laps, before Homola lost control of his car at the final corner and hit the back of Comte.
While Homola assumed the lead, and Nagy moved into third place ahead of Davidovski, Comte reclaimed the advantage at the chicane with two laps to go, benefiting from the slipstream down the back straight.
Homola tried to repeat his previously failed move on Comte at the final corner, but the latter defended the inside line well and backed the Slovakian up on exit to claim his first SIM Racing victory.
The next race takes place at the virtual version of Zolder on June 24th.