Photo: TCR Italy

Alex Ley wins red-flagged Misano opener

Target Competition driver Alex Ley (Hyundai) claimed the victory in Saturday’s Race 1 at Misano on his TCR Italy championship debut. The race ended with a red flag due a fire in Michele Imberti’s car.

Ley took the lead at the rolling start, which is new for this year, followed by Nicolas Taylor (Audi RS 3 LMS from PMA Motorsport) and Kim Hwarang (Hyundai).

Nicola Baldan (Audi RS 3 LMS) made a mistake in the penultimate corner on lap one, going wide but managed to control his car to stay on the track and not lose any positions.

Junui Park (Hyundai Elantra N TCR) went wide at the end of the second lap, colliding with Salvatore Tavano (Cupra Leon VZ) on his return to the track. Tavano stayed ahead in fifth position.

Baldan continued his charge forward, overtaking Hwarang for third place on lap three and Taylor a lap later.

Junui Park tried an impossible overtaking move over Tavano, going wide and losing sixth place to Ruben Volt of Honda ALM Motorsport. Volt continued moving through the filed, overtaking Tavano. The group then made contact with Taylor, who had lost third place to Hwarang.

Volt managed to overtake Tavano and made contact with Taylor to take fourth place, as the Canadian went wide and fell down to eighth place. Junui Park took advantage of the situation to overtake Tavano for fifth place on lap five.

Tavano also came under attack from Junesung Park (Hyundai), losing sixth place to the South Korean on lap six.

Baldan overtook Ley for the race lead on lap eight, as Volt attacked Hwarang for third place. The pair had several side-to-side moments until the Estonian driver managed to prevail for third position.

Junesung Park made a mistake on lap nine, slowing down due to some sort of technical issue with his Elantra. Volt also suffered an issue, falling to 17th place.

Junui Park then attacked Hwarang on lap ten, overtaking for third place, allowing Tavano and Imberti to make contact with the pair. Imberti made the most of the situation to overtake Tavano and launch his attack on Hwarang, going past to take fourth place on lap 12. Tavano also overtook the Hyundai driver soon after.

Disaster struck for Baldan who suffered a puncture on lap 13, dropping far down the field to leave Ley and Imberti in the race lead.

Junui Park out-braked himself while attacking Imberti for second place, with Tavano taking advantage to overtake the Korean for third place. Park was called to report to the stewards after the race.

Taylor came under attack from Matteo Poloni (Audi) on lap 15, with the Italian driver overtaking for fourth place. The scuff between the two allowed Hwarang to go past both and climb up to fourth position.

The safety car was called into action in the final part of the race as Imberti suffered a fire in his Hyundai Elantra N TCR, leaving the car on the run-off area and jumped out. As the recovery procedure took time, the race was red-flagged with no restart.

The classification was that of the last full lap before the red flag, with Ley winning on his championship debut, followed by Imberti and Tavano.

Junui Park was fourth, followed by Hwarang, Taylor, Poloni and Denis Babuin, Filippo Barbieri and Sandro Pelatti.

“From the start I had to manage my tyres, as I think there were some problems for Baldan,” Ley said after the race. “But yes, these are happy days and I’m looking forward to the next race.

Race 2 at Misano is scheduled for Sunday morning at 10:00 CEST.