Groszek and Homola get one win apiece in TCR Eastern Europe opener
The 2022 TCR Eastern Europe opener at the Hungaroring provided two entertaining races as Audi racer Bartosz Groszek and Hyundai racer Mat’o Homola shared wins.
After being fastest on a damp Hungarian circuit in qualifying, Groszek started the first race from pole position, ahead of the two Hyundai Elantras of Jáchym Galáš and Homola.
Groszek was pressured by Galáš on the approach to Turn 1, with Milovan Vesnić, driving an Audi RS 3 LMS, getting up to third.
Renault driver Milenko Vuković got a strong start with his Renault, climbing into fourth position on the opening lap after qualifying in tenth place.
While going through Turn 2, Vesnić tapped the back end of Galáš’s Elantra and both of them fell to the back of the pack, with Galáš sustaining damage to his rear-right suspension. This promoted Vuković to second place ahead of Sebastian Steibel in the Cupra.
The only Hungarian racer on the grid, Levente Losonczy, inherited fourth place in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR, with Homola in fifth. Homola then went on to pass both Steibel and Vuković.
At the start of lap three, Petr Semerád of Janik Motorsport got ahead of Losonczy to get to fifth place.
One lap later, Semerád passed Steibel, and then slowly got up to the rear of Vuković. The Czech racer got ahead of the Megane driver in the run up to Turn 12 which was under yellow flags because of the stranded Cupra of Carol Wittke who retired with a technical issue.
Semerád let Vuković back through because of the yellow flags and was unable to get back past for the remainder of the race.
In the closing minutes of the first race, Steibel lost two positions. First to Losonczy in the chicane of Turns 6 and 7, and then to Petr Čížek in Turn 1 of next lap, and as a result of that, was down in sixth position.
Homola patiently waited until the last corner of the last lap to launch an attack on the outside of leading driver Groszek, but could not get past the Audi driver who crossed the line first, with Vuković in third.
Semerád finished the race in fourth, ahead of Levente Losonczy, Čížek and Sebastian Steibel. Tomasz Rzepecki, Sanel Ćehić and Radim Adámek completed the top ten.
Adámek started the second race from pole position, ahead of Ćehić and Rzepecki, with Race 1 winner Groszek starting in tenth place.
Adámek managed to hold on to first place as the lights went out, with Steibel getting to second place with Vuković in third.
Rzepecki got to first place by the end of the first lap, with Vuković also climbing second place. But it didn’t take long for the Renault driver to snatch the lead.
Pole sitter Adámek got into an incident with Losonczy in the run up to Turn 4, seeing them both fall down to the back of the pack.
Semerád and Homola were climbing the order together during first four laps and got up to second and third position respectively.
Jáchym Galáš was also going up through the field with passes on Steibel and Čížek, getting him up to fifth place.
Homola managed to get past Semerád and started to chase after leading Renault Megané driver Vuković with ten minutes of the race remaining. The Hyundai Elantra N TCR driver launched an attack on Vuković at the final turn, on the inside this time, but couldn’t get ahead of the Renault driver.
Meanwhile, Galáš made Semerád run wide in Turn 11 and got up to third at the back-straight, while Vuković was doing everything he could to defend from Homola.
On the penultimate lap, Homola tapped the right rear of the Renault, sending Vuković wide in Turn 8, snatching the lead in the process. The other Elantra driver, Galáš, used the opportunity to get to second place. And things turned from bad to worse for Vuković as Semerád passed him on the last lap for third, making it a Hyundai 1-2-3.
Vuković completed the second race of the season in fourth ahead of Race 1 winner Groszek. Tomasz Rzepecki got to the finish line in sixth place, ahead of Čížek, Wittke and Steibel. The final point was won by Milovan Vesnić, who started the race at the back of the grid.
Homola is the leader of the standings with 43 points, ahead of Groszek who has 35 points, while Vuković and Semerád tied in third with 27 each.
The TCR Eastern Europe season continues on June 4-5 at the Red Bull Ring.