Photo: TCR Europe

Tom Coronel wins in Comtoyou 1-2 to move into TCR Europe title contention

Comtoyou Racing’s Tom Coronel took his first TCR Europe win of 2022 in the Saturday race at Paul Ricard.

The Audi RS 3 LMS driver led from start to finish, holding off the briefest of challenges from Felice Jelmini off the line then pulling away up front.

Coronel’s lead grew to 2.4 seconds at its largest point, but in the final few laps team-mate Franco Girolami started closing in and finished 0.798s behind to extend his points lead.

Target Competition’s Jelmini gave up second place to Girolami on lap three, but stayed in touching distance of the Argentinian through the rest of the race to claim the third TCR podium of his career.

John Filippi picked up fourth for Sébastien Loeb Racing and was just behind the top three, but he had a big gap to the rest of the field.

Initially competing for a top-five result were Jack Young and Josh Files, who came into the race as Girolami’s joint closest title rivals, but both had a messy time. Files had a super slow start and dropped several places off the line before getting into an early incident with Pepe Oriola, then following up that battle he was attempting an ambitious move around the outside at Beausset on lap three when he was knocked off track by a diving Isidro Callejas.

That knocked him even further down to 10th, with Oriola moving onto Young in his next fight for position. The pair had already overtaken each other twice on lap two of the race, and when they started battling again they also had the third Audi of Viktor Davidovski to contend with.

Davidovski passed Oriola for seventh with three laps to go, and that became sixth when Young’s car ground to a halt on the pit straight going into the final lap.

Finishing a lonely fifth, after escaping the battles behind, was Klim Gavrilov, and he had a gap of almost seven seconds to Davidovski, Oriola and Files. Both Young and Files have now been jumped by Coronel in the points table, with Gavrilov, Filippi and Oriola all ahead of Young too.

Mat’o Homola was set for ninth place in the race, but on the final lap went way off at the double-apex hairpin that leads onto the long Mistral straight and as he drove through the abrasive run-off strips he plummeted down to last place.

In the end he never actually made it back onto track to complete the lap, and Files’ team-mate Nicola Baldan inherited ninth while Mike Halder rose up the order to finish 10th.

The second race of the Paul Ricard weekend starts at 12:15 CEST.