Photo: TCR Europe

John Filippi takes lights-to-flag win at Paul Ricard

John Filippi won a depleted TCR Europe Race 1 at Paul Ricard.

The grid shrank from 14 to 12 cars pre-race as Target Competition withdrew its two Hyundais, then on lap one a clash between the debuting Sacha Bottemanne and Daniel Tkachenko led to Bottemanne crashing out later in the lap and Tkachenko having to head to the pits before also retiring by the barriers later in the race.

Filippi started from pole and never really had to worry about the cars behind, with Nicola Baldan occupying second place after passing Comtoyou Racing team-mates Kobe Pauwels and Tom Coronel at the start.

Coronel made a slow getaway from second in the grid and was fourth before even reaching the opening corner, and Baldan got the move done on Pauwels for second as they exited the corner.

Although Baldan could match Filippi’s pace, he could not get close to him and finished 1.141 seconds behind in the 10-lap race.

Pauwels finished a further 1.614s behind in third, and Coronel had his points lead over Filippi cut as he finished fourth. Coronel did pressure Pauwels throughout, but as the pair were in identical Audi RS 3 II LMS TCRs there was no pace difference he could make us of.

Aurélien Comte started and finished fifth in SP Compéticion’s Cupra Leon Competícíon TCR, and Ruben Volt drove ALM Motorsport’s Honda Civic Type R FL5 to sixth. It took a few attempts for him to take the position of Viktor Davidovski, as every time he made a move under braking he then lost out to the straightline speed of Davidovski’s Audi.

Lewis Brown, Levente Losonczy and Viktor Andersson rounded out the finishers.

The second race starts at 12:10 CEST on Sunday.