Photo: TCR Europe

Santiago Urrutia wins safety car-filled TCR World Tour Race 2 at Algarve

Lynk & Co Cyan Racing’s Santiago Urrutia led from start to finish in TCR World Tour Race 2 at Algarve, although he spent half of the race behind the safety car.

Urrutia started on reversed-grid pole alongside Kobe Pauwels, with Thed Björk and Tom Coronel filling the grid’s second row.

The pole position slot was on the outside line, and so Urrutia immediately cut across to the inside once the race began. That baulked Pauwels, and enabled Björk to get into second to form a Cyan Racing one-two.

Pauwels lost several places and fell behind Ma Qing Hua exiting turn three. Néstor Girolami tried to take advantage, heading to the inside for the direction change of turn four. But he hit the kerbs as there was not enough room for himself, Pauwels and Hua on the outside, and bouncing over them led to him drifting outwards and into the path of Pauwels.

Girolami went way off exiting the corner, which forced Pauwels off too. When Pauwels attempted to rejoin the circuit he made wheel-to-wheel contact with Dušan Borković, sending the right-hand side of Borković’s car into the air.

The front-right wheel was destroyed as it landed back on the ground, but impressively Borković’s managed to get to the pits. Pauwels, however, was out on the spot and so the safety car was called out.

Urrutia and Björk led the way, while Frédéric Vervisch had passed his Comtoyou Racing team-mate Coronel for third but had to hand the position back due to the timing of his overtake as the safety car was summoned.

Racing resumed on lap six, but not making the restart was Girolami. He had pitted on lap two, with the ALM Motorsport team working on the front-right of his car. Seemingly it did not go to plan as it collapsed just before the restart and left him stranded at the final corner.

That meant there was green flag action for less than a lap before the safety car came out again, meaning the race was extended from twelve to 14 laps, although the recovery of Girolami’s car meant racing could resume on lap nine.

The Cyan Racing drivers worked well to not fight each other and pull away from the Comtoyou pair, who did choose to fight for position. Vervisch passed Coronel for third on lap 11, which then put his team-mate under pressure from BRC Racing’s Mikel Azcona who snuck down the inside of Turn 14 to take fourth.

Azcona put Vervisch under late pressure, locking up on the final lap as he attacked him, while Coronel held off team-mate Rob Huff for fifth.

Huff had passed Hua for sixth at Turn 8 on lap ten, which then enabled Yann Ehrlacher to go several corners side-by-side with his Cyan Racing team-mate before finally also clearing Hua at Turn 13. There would be more position losses for Hua, as BRC’s World Tour points leader Nobert Michelisz barged past him going through the final two corners on the penultimate lap and John Filippi passed him at the finish.

Filippi completed a Comtoyou one-two behind Coronel for drivers scoring points in TCR Europe, and the result also meant Coronel took the series lead. Rubén Fernandez rounded out TCR Europe’s podium, and Ben Bargwanna in twelfth topped the rookie classification.

There had been drama outside of the top ten following the second second restart, with Viktor Davidovski (Comtoyou) and Fernández (RC2 Racing Team) immediately dicing down the pit straight. Davidovki then battled Fernández’s brother and team-mate Felipe a few laps later, attempting to overtake him for eleventh at Turn 1. Fernández ran wide and so Davidovski tried again on the inside of Turn 3 but they made contact.

It sent Férnandez off and Davidovski gained the position, then at Turn 5 there was more contact as Férnandez went into Davidovski at the exit of the corner. It sent the latter spinning before further contact straightened him up, but it meant he dropped to last.

Férnandez was passed by brother Rubén for tenth, and was handed a ten-second penalty for the Turn 5 incident which meant he was classified 18th and only ahead of Davidovski.

The next TCR World Tour race takes place at Spa on May 27-28 while TCR Europe races at Pau on May 13-14.