Photo: TCR Media

Néstor Girolami takes lights-to-flag win in Vallelunga Race 2

Néstor Girolami took a commanding win with his Hyundai Elantra N TCR in FIA TCR World Tour Race 2 at Valleunga.

The Argentinian came home ahead of fellow South American driver Santiago Urrutia, with the Lynk & Co driver finishing ahead of Honda driver Marco Butti.

At the start Girolami had a decent getaway, but Urrutia challenged him for the lead.

Butti got a lighting start from fifth and was on the outside at Cimini fighting with Filippi for third. But the two made contact on the exit and the Audi driver lost several places as the Honda driver found himself passed by Ma Qing Hua.

But Butti overtook the Lynk & Co driver back at Esse right before the safety car came out due to Filippo Barberi’s Aikoa Audi being left in a dangerous position.

Girolami led the way from Urrutia and Butti at the restart after two laps of safety car.

But the safety car was soon back out as Victor Fernandez spun out of Curvone and hit the guard rail.

The action resumed with ten laps to go, with Ma still defending hard from Guerrieri and Azcona as the leading duo opened a gap.

On lap eight Yann Ehrlacher was called back into the pits with a black and orange flag due to a loose bonnet following contact earlier in the race.

By lap ten Girolami had an advantage of over one second from Urrutia and more than five over Butti.

That lap saw Guerrieri making a move on Ma with some contact, allowing Azcona past as well.

On the following lap Björk and Michelisz also passed the Chinese driver, soon followed by John Filippi at Campagnano, completing a disastrous five kilometers for Ma who lost five positions.

Tension remained high as Butti had to defend from team-mate Guerrieri and Hyundai’s Azcona, with the young Italian coping well with the pressure. With two laps to go, Tony Verhulst stopped outside of Trincea.

Despite the tense battles, nothing else changed and Girolami made it a Hyundai double win in Italy, finishing ahead of Urrutia and Butti.

Guerrieri came home fourth ahead of Azcona, Björk, Michelisz and Filippi. Ma finished ninth ahead of Sandro Pelatti, the first of the Coppa Italia Turismo drivers.

The next FIA TCR World Tour race takes place in Morocco on May 3-4.