Franco Girolami takes first career TCR Europe win in Race 2
PSS Racing’s Franco Girolami produced an assertive drive to claim his maiden TCR Europe Series victory in the second race at Zandvoort.
The Honda Civic Type-R driver, whose best result this season before Zandvoort had been third place in Slovakia, started third on the grid but made swift progress in the opening laps to pass polesitter Sami Taoufik.
Girolami then closed on and passed Taoufik’s Sébastien Loeb Racing team-mate Niels Langeveld with a forceful overtake at Turn 11 to seize a lead he kept until the flag.
Langeveld held onto second at the finish, with Brutal Fish Racing’s Isidro Callejas claiming his first TCR Europe podium in third.
Race 1 runner-up Jack Young could not replicate his team-mate Callejas’ result after he lost several places following a wild trip through the gravel while attempting to pass Taoufik.
Taoufik initially got a decent start off the line, as he and Langeveld ran side-by-side for the lead in the opening sequence of corners. Langeveld, who had to fend off Girolami at Tarzan, eventually snatched the lead from Taoufik, with the latter being passed by Girolami around the outside of the Turn 11 chicane.
Taoufik was subsequently ushered out into the gravel on the exit and dropped to sixth behind team-mate Mehdi Bennani, while Girolami set his sights on Langeveld out front.
Further back, Tom Coronel was slowed with an issue, but in trying to get out of the way exiting Hugenholtz on the second lap, contact was made between VRT-Team’s Klim Gavrilov and SLR’s Felice Jelmini.
Jelmini lost a wheel in the incident, forcing the safety car to be deployed.
By this point, Girolami had already seized the advantage from Langeveld for the lead, after a panel-bashing move at Turn 11. Girolami nudged Langeveld on the exit of Turn 10 and the pair ran side-by-side down the back straight towards the braking zone of Turn 11.
Girolami moved across slightly to claim the road and then grabbed the lead on entry.
The Argentinian led away from the safety car restart and was rarely challenged thereafter.
Keen to make progress himself, Young tried to make inroads into the field and tried to drive around the outside of Taoufik at the high-speed Schievlak, but ran out of road and understeered off track.
The Honda bounced through the gravel trap and nearly hit the barriers, but Young kept it going, albeit dropping to 17th place.
His recovery to ninth by the finish was, however, one of the drives of the race. The pace from the Honda was evident and Young pulled off a number of bold passes, often under braking for Tarzan to pick up useful points for his championship bid.
Off the podium, the battle was just as intense, with Dušan Borković rounding off a positive weekend in the Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS with fourth place.
Borković managed to make a decisive move on Bennani on the run to Tarzan before driving completely around the outside of Jimmy Clairet’s Team Clairet Sport Peugeot 308TCR for fourth.
Clairet clung on to fifth by the end, ahead of Bennani, while Taoufik ended up seventh in the second Hyundai.
Comtoyou Racing’s Nicolas Baert had a quiet race to eighth, ahead of the impressive Young while Girolami’s team-mate Viktor Davidovski rounded out the top 10 finishers.