Photo: TCR South America

Raphael Reis claims lights-to-flag victory in Velocitta opener

W2 Pro GP’s Raphael Reis (Cupra) scored the victory in Race 1 at Velocitta, host of round nine of the 2023 TCR South America season.

At the start Reis converted the pole position into the race lead, with his W2 Pro GP team-mate Galid Osman overtaking PMO Motorsport’s Rafael Suzuki (Lynk & Co 03 TCR) for second place.

Pedro Cardoso (Scuderia Chiarelli) was on the move early in the race, overtaking Osman for second place. Toyota driver Juan Ángel Rosso followed past and then overtook Cardoso for second place on the second lap.

The safety car was called into action on lap three when Adalberto Baptista (Hyundai) spun off into the gravel trap.

The race was relaunched on lap five with Reis in the lead ahead of Rosso and Cardoso. Bernardo Llaver of Toyota Team Argentina overtook Squadra Martino’s Ignacio Montenegro (Honda) for fourth place. Montenegro regained the position on lap six.

Further back, Suzuki had dropped to eighth place, challenging seventh-placed Diego Nunes from Cobra Racing.

Llaver came under pressure from Paladini Racing’s Fabián Yannantuoni (Toyota Corolla TCR) on lap 14, with the Toyota Team Argentina driver out braking himself several times to defend from Yannantuoni.

The two came side-by-side on lap 15 and the fight between the two allowed Nunes and Suzuki to close the gap.

Reis claimed the victory with Rosso and Cardoso completing the podium. Montenegro was fourth, with Yannantuoni in fifth followed by Nunes, who overtook Llaver on the last lap.

Manuel Sapag (Toyota Corolla TCR) was eighth, followed by Suzuki and Juan Manuel Casella completing the top ten for Squadra Martino.

“I’m very happy for this result and the points achieved in this place,” said Reis after the race. ”We had a safety car in the middle of the race which didn’t make things easy for us, but we managed in the end.”

The TCR South America field returns to the track at 12:53 local time (17:53 CEST) for Race 2.