After Luca Engstler’s authoritative win in the first race, his teammate Florian Thoma provided the icing on the cake for the Liqui Moly Team Engstler by claiming victory in Race 2 in a similar way.
The Swiss was able to start well from the third row of the grid, took the lead from Giovanni Altoè on the first lap and then benefited from the fights behind him to pull away and score his first win in the series, his second in TCR after that in the opening event of last year’s ADAC TCR Germany at Oschersleben.
The battle for the second place was red-hot between Giovanni Altoè, Mat’o Homola, Lorenzo Veglia and Engstler. A series of clashes on the final lap ended up with Veglia crossing the line second, followed by Homola, Engstler and Altoè. But Veglia was later demoted by a 30-second penalty for a previous incident with Costas Papantonis.
Giovanni’s younger brother Giacomo was classified sixth after struggling to recover.
The title fight is now taking shape as a two-way battle between Engstler (89 points) and Giacomo Altoè (75), with Homola in third position (64) waiting for them to make a false step.
The series will come to its end at the Bahrain International Circuit on February 23/24.
Start – Papantonis takes advantage of the pole position on the reverse grid and takes the lead from Giovanni Altoè and Thoma
Lap 1 – Giovanni Altoè and Thoma overtake Papantonis, then Thoma steals the lead from the Italian
Lap 2 – Homola tries in vain to overtake Giovanni Altoè for third; Veglia and Engstler move up to 6th and 7th respectively
Lap 3 – Papantonis and Homola swap positions a couple of times; Jordan overtakes Kroes for 8th
Lap 4 – Veglia and Engstler overtake Oriola and climb to 5th and 6th
Lap 5 – Thoma has a leading gap of two seconds
Lap 6 – Veglia hits Papantonis who crashes at T11 and retires from 4th; Giacomo Altoè overtakes Kroes for 8th
Lap 7 – Giovanni Altoè bravely defends his second position from Homola
Lap 8 – Veglia and Engstler are in a close fight for the 4th place
Lap 10 – The fight for the second place involves Giovanni Altoè, Homola, Veglia and Engstler
Lap 11 – Veglia overtakes Homola for third
Lap 12 – Jordan overtakes Oriola for 6th
Lap 13 – Giacomo Altoè overtakes Oriola for 7th
Lap 14 – Thoma sails to victory; behind him the fight between Homola, Veglia and Giovanni Altoè results in a three-car contact; Veglia squeezes among his rivals and crosses the line second, but is later penalised for his incident with Papantonis