Aurélien Comte wins to claim points lead as Niels Langeveld suffers puncture
Aurélien Comte won the first TCR Italy race of the weekend at Vallunga to claim the points lead as pole sitter and former championship leader Niels Langeveld suffered a puncture while leading.
MM Motorsport driver Langeveld started from pole and was able to build a solid lead in the first part of the race.
Cupra driver Comte started fourth but soon made his way past Hyundai driver Marco Butti who soon headed to the pits with a misfiring engine, rejoining at the back of the field several laps down.
Disaster then struck Langeveld on lap nine, suffering a front-left puncture and dropped down to finish 20th.
This saw ALM Motorsport driver Ruben Volt (Honda) inheriting the lead, but it was not to last for long.
Comte quickly closed in on Volt and was able to get past for the lead on lap eleven as smoke started to come out from the back of Volt’s Honda.
And the Estonian driver came to a halt by the side of the track on lap 14 with a technical issue, retiring from the race.
Disaster also struck Felice Jelmini of PMA Motorsport on the same lap who had to retire from third place due to a technical issue.
Hyundai driver Junui Park went off on lap 15 due to a front-left puncture.
Comte won the race after 19 laps with a margin of close to nine seconds ahead of title rival Franco Girolami (Aikoa Racing) while Rubén Fernàndez claimed the final podium position.
Audi driver Denis Babuin was fifth ahead of Michele Imbergi and Levente Losonczy.
Comte’s win has brought the French driver into the points lead, two points ahead of Girolami and 26 ahead of Langeveld.
The second race of the weekend starts at 16:30 CEST on Sunday.