Photo: TCR Italy

Michele Imberti fights hard to claim Misano Race 2 victory

Michele Imberti (Hyundai i30N TCR) controlled TCR Italy Race 2 at Misano to claim his first victory of the year in an incident-packed race.

Imberti got wheel spin at the start, losing the lead to Aurélien Comte (Cupra León Competición), but the Italian was able to recover first place two corners later.

Felice Jelmini, driving an Audi RS 3 LMS of team PMA, then overtook Comte for second place. But the Frenchman soon regained the position as the start move came under investigation by the stewards.

Matthias Vahtel (Honda Civic Type R TCR) and Levente Losonczy (Hyundai Elantra N TCR) came together at Turn 14, with the Estonian driver sustaining heavy damage and retiring to the pits. Losonczy received a 25-second time penalty for the incident.

The fight for the lead continued, with Imberti and Comte opening a gap over the pursuing group. Meanwhile, Saturday’s winner Niels Langeveld (Honda Civic FL5 TCR from MM Motorsport) recovered positions and was up to third place.

The woes continued for ALM Motorsport, with Ruben Volt retiring to the pits with an issue in his Honda Civic Type R TCR.

The safety car came into action on lap six after Horia-Traian Chirigut (Honda Civic Type R TCR) was stranded on the track following a collision.

The race was relaunched on lap eight, with Imberti retaining the lead, followed by Comte and Langeveld. Further back, Denis Babuin (Audi RS 3 LMS), Marco Pellegrini Cosimo Barberini (Cupra León Competición) came three-wide in the fight for ninth place, with Pellegrini prevailing over his rivals.

Marco Butti, driving a Hyundai Elantra N TCR from Target Competition, was also on the move in fourth place and closed the gap to Langeveld, as Franco Girolami of Aikoa Racing was unable to follow the Italian’s pace.

Jelmini was losing ground due to grip issues and came under fire from Felipe Fernández (RC2 Vallés), with the Spaniard overtaking the Italian for sixth place on lap eleven.

The safety car was called into action on the following lap as Sergio López Bolotín (Audi RS 3 LMS) stopped on the track. The race was only neutralised for two laps, with the track going green with four minutes plus one lap left on the clock.

Jelmini and Babuin fought for seventh place on the last lap, overtaking each other several times.

Imberti claimed the victory at the chequered flag, with Comte and Langeveld completing the podium. Butti was fourth, followed by Girolami and Felipe Fernández.

Jelmini finished in seventh place, followed by Barberini and Babuin. Rodolfo Massaro (Hyundai Elantra N TCR from Target Competition) completed the top ten.

“It wasn’t my best start, but I was able to recover the position and we did a good job keeping the pace,” said Imberti after the race. “It was a good result with our ‘époque’ machine.”

Girolami leads the drivers’ championship with 160 points after the second round, followed by Butti 28 points behind, and Langeveld 34 points adrift.

The next round of the TCR Italy takes place at Vallelunga on the 9-11th of June as an invitational event where the TCR World Tour field will join.