Photo: TCR Series

Andreas Bäckman wins as Mike Halder takes the championship lead

Target Competition’s Andreas Bäckman claimed his first victory of the year in Sunday’s TCR Europe race at Barcelona.

Saturday’s winner Mike Halder finished fifth, becoming the new championship leader as Brutal Fish’s Daniel Lloyd was ninth.

At the start Bäckman retained the lead from fellow Target Competition drivers Jessica Bäckman and John Filippi, all three driving Hyundai i30 N TCRs. Brutal Fish’s Pepe Oriola, starting from seventh on the grid, moved up to fourth position at the first corner, with Comtoyou Racing drivers Nicolas Baert, Sami Taoufik and Mehdi Bennani right behind.

Lloyd, with a Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR, collided with the Hyundai i30 N TCR of Mat’o Homola, from BRC Racing Team, with the Slovakian forced to retire to the pits after the contact. Bennani overtook Taoufik and Baert to climb up to fifth place. The Moroccan came under fire from BRC Racing Team’s Dániel Nagy.

Further back, Lloyd overtook championship rival Mike Halder, at Turn 1 on lap four for tenth place. The Briton continued moving forward, attacking Teddy Clairet for position but he then left the door open on lap five, with Halder regaining tenth place.

Halder opened a gap over Lloyd as the Brutal Fish driver had now to defend from Michelle Halder, also driving a Honda Civic Type R FK7 from Team Halder. Taoufik overtook Bennani for fifth place.

At the front, Andreas Bäckman opened a gap as his sister Jessica in second place came under fire from Filippi. Mike Halder overtook Clairet for ninth place on lap seven.

Filippi attacked Jessica Bäckman on lap eight, with the Swedish driver spinning off the track. Bäckman was able to rejoin the race on her own power but falling to the back of the pack.

Taoufik kept the pressure on Oriola, overtaking for third place on lap nine, with the Spaniard now under pressure from Benanni. Further back, Julien Briché collided with the sole Cupra TCR in the field, driven by Evgenii Leonov for Volcano Motorsport, with the Frenchman retiring to the pits.

Bennani overtook Oriola for fourth place on lap ten, with the Spaniard now attacked by Baert, who was also under fire from Nagy. Filippi received a drive-through penalty for the incident with Jessica Bäckman, with the Frenchman rejoining the race in 14th place.

Nagy overtook Baert and then, Oriola, who also lost to Mike Halder on lap eleven. Baert also overtook the Spaniard for sixth place as the Spaniard was struggling with his tyres, now under attack from Michelle Halder.

Oriola tried to defend at the main straight as the competitors started the last lap but couldn’t contain Halder. The Brutal Fish driver had now to defend from Target Competition’s José Manuel Sapag, driving a Hyundai i30 N TCR.

The Argentinian went through to take eighth place, with Lloyd, Jimmy Clairet, Filippi, Teddy Clairet and Stéphane Ventaja also overtaking struggling a Oriola, who crossed the finishing line in 14th place. Florian Briché took the final point in 15th place.

Andreas Bäckman said after the race: “It was very tricky. I had a lot of understeer because of the tyres, so we just tried to keep it until the line. We had trouble with tyres in the first race, so we tried to make it work in the second. I really like this track because it’s very technical but also very fast.”

Mike Halder leads the championship with 195 points ahead if Lloyd, nine points behind and Bennani, ten points adrift.

The next round of the TCR Europe series takes place at Spa-Francorchamps on the 23-24th of October.