Photo: TCR Europe

Mikel Azcona completes Spa TCR Europe double

Volcano Motorsport’s Mikel Azcona produced another dominant display at Spa-Francorchamps to take his second TCR Europe series victory of the weekend.

Much like his Race 1 performance, the 2018 Series champion utilised a mixed tyre strategy of slicks on the front of his Cupra and wets on the rear to charge through from 13th on the grid to claim victory over Boutsen Ginion Racing’s Tom Coronel by 4.293s.

Target Competition’s John Filippi completed the podium following a closely fought battle with Coronel in the closing stages.

Points leader Mike Halder (Team Halder Honda Civic Type-R) extended his margin at the top of the standings with tenth, while title rivals Dan Lloyd and Mehdi Bennani endured difficult races.

Off the line, Brutal Fish Racing’s Pepe Oriola got the best start and immediately moved past pole-sitter Mat’o Homola into La Source.

Halder also made it down the inside of Homola as the field negotiated the first corner with everyone except Oriola’s team-mate Martin Ryba making out the other side.

Ryba spun and impacted the concrete wall heavily on exit but continued, albeit briefly before spinning off again at Turn 11 before the end of the opening lap.

There was also drama for Hond adriver Michelle Halder, who spun off on the inside of the final chicane early on.

Perhaps the scariest moment of the opening lap occurred at Raidillon as Target Competition’s Andreas Bäckman tagged the back of BRC Racing’s Homola.

Bäckman spun back into the path of the field, narrowly avoiding being hit by the on-rushing pack. Team-mate and sister Jessica Bäckman did slightly tag the stricken Hyundai, but both continued.

Oriola opened up a lead of just over a second from Halder at the end of the lap, but could not break away from the Honda.

Behind, Homola came under attack from the Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS of Sami Taoufik for third, until the Moroccan slid off under braking at Les Combes, hitting the barriers.

Homola was soon under increased pressure from José Manuel Sapag and Dan Lloyd (Brutal Fish Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR). The latter pair managed to get passed the Hyundai i30 N TCR but came together exiting Stavelot on the third lap of 10.

Lloyd, keen to cut back on Sapag at the exit of the corner, tagged the rear of Sapag before the pair brushed door panels. The brushing continued before both slewed off the track and hard into the tyre barriers.

A lengthy safety car period ensued, meaning a four-lap sprint to the finish, with Oriola leading away off the restart.

Race 1 winner Azcona had already worked his way up to third before the restart and soon made it second after sneaking down the inside of Halder at La Source.

Such was the pace of Azcona in the older generation of Cupra, that he breezed past Oriola at Malmedy for the lead, which he soon extended to over two-and-a-half seconds.

Filippi and Coronel also made it past Oriola by the end of the lap, with the Spaniard slipping out of the top 10 by the finish.

While Azcona was long gone by the end, Coronel and Filippi were inseparable in their squabble for second place. The Dutchman in the Honda had the superior pace but Filippi’s defence was valiant.

Ultimately, Coronel had too much in hand and passed Filippi with two laps remaining to seal his second podium in a row, while Filippi was third.

Team Clairet Sport’s Teddy Clairet fought his way through the field from 14th on the grid to finish a superb fourth, ahead of Comtoyou Racing’s Nicolas Baert and Dániel Nagy.

Andreas Bäckman recovered to finish seventh, ahead of Nicola Baldan (Élite Motorsport Cupra León Competición).

Evgenii Leonov was ninth, while Halder completed the top ten.

The final TCR Europe race weekend of 2020 takes place at Jamara in Spain on November 6-8.