Rafael Suzuki wins opening race at Cascavel
Rafael Suzuki secured victory in race one of the TCR South America season finale at Cascavel, although the rival Squadra Martino outfit claimed the teams’ championship.
At the start, Juan Manuel Casella in his Squadra Martino Honda, was slow off the blocks, with Suzuki taking the lead followed by W2 GP Pro’s Galid Osman in his Cupra Leon Competición.
Osman was under pressure from championship leader Bernado Llaver’s a Toyota with His main rival for the title, Squadra Martino’s Ignacio Montenegro, was down in 13th place.
Suzuki opened a gap at the front, as the battle between Osman and Llaver intensified, with Diego Nunes and Juan Ángel Rosso, both in Toyotas, behind.
Further behind, Casella was keen to recover lost ground and upped the pressure on Paladini Racing’s Fabián Yannantuoni for sixth place on lap ten.
Nunes retired to the pits on lap 13, enabling Montenegro, stuck behind Pedro Cardoso’s Hyundai to come into the top ten in the race classification.
Llaver couldn’t keep up with Osman, with the Brazilian charging ahead to reduce the gap to Suzuki, and with the Toyota Team Argentina driver falling four seconds behind.
The safety car came into action on lap 15 as Casella overbraked himself and crashed against the barriers, with no harm for the Uruguayan driver.
His Honda was quickly recovered but there was damage to the barriers with the race going green again on lap 20, with less than a minute left on the clock.
Montenegro attacked Cardoso and Juan Manuel Sapag for seventh place, as Llaver had to defend from Rosso on the final lap.
Suzuki won ahead of Osman and Llaver, with Rosso in fourth place, ahead of Yannantuoni.
Reis was sixth followed by Montenegro and Fabio Casagrande whilst Cardoso and Guilherme Reischl completed the top ten.
“It’s a great opportunity to win like this,” said Suzuki after the race. “The championship is very competitive and it has been a season with a lots of ups and downs, so I’m very happy with this race.”
The TCR South America field returns to the track for Race 2, the final race of the season, at 12:40 local time (16:40 CET).