WestCoast Racing had a difficult weekend in both of the TCR International Series events held at the Sochi Autodrom.
Due to them being the two highest scoring drivers at the previous Salzburgring, Kevin Gleason carried 30kgs of success ballast whilst team-mate Gianni Morbidelli carried 20kgs of ballast. The Sochi circuit also highlighted how hard the Honda would find the SEAT Competition. The highlight of qualifying for the team was Gleason qualifying in tenth place and claiming the race two pole, however the races would prove more difficult.
In race one, Morbidelli managed to hang on to seventh place after some close racing and fighting with Nykjaer and Engstrom, whilst Gleason hauled his way up to eighth position by the flag, closing on Morbidelli. New team mate Ildar Rakhmatulin retired to the pits with only two laps to go.
Race two started badly when Morbidelli was unable to take the start, due to a failing turbo that began to give up on the last lap of race one. Morbidelli got out of the car on lap three and retired there and then.
Gleason was in the midst of a fight back after losing three places at the start battles on the track. He was forward in his charge back up the order before falling into the clutches of Pepe Oriola. A race-long battle with Jordi Gene eventually went the way of the Spaniard who pulled an aggressive move after a stout defence from Gleason, whose sixth place would be the best finish for WestCoast Racing during a tough weekend.
Kevin Gleason explained his difficult weekend.
“I had a slow start to the weekend on a track I had not seen or tested on and, having arrived late into Russia after a 23-hour journey, I was up against it from the start,” said the American. “Despite carrying maximum ballast, I got stronger and matched Gianni (Morbidelli) for times in race one.
“In the second race I think I showed I am getting stronger in race situations, particularly in defending my position. In the end we haven’t lost too much ground in the championship, as we scored points in both races where others didn’t.”
Morbidelli reflected on a tough meeting, which saw him drop to third in the Drivers Championship.
“We struggled to get a good set-up all weekend and had a lot of understeer, which seems to be the case when the temperatures are hot,” revealed the Italian. “I did what I could but that wasn’t really enough and the mechanical issue in race two has put us back in the championship.”
WestCoast Team Manager, James Nixon is looking forward to a better showing at the Red Bull Ring.
“That was the toughest weekend of the championship so far,” revealed Nixon. “The circuit was probably the worst on the calendar to carry success ballast and we had mechanical issues with Gianni’s car and a big effort from all the guys sadly didn’t result in a resolution.
“We will regroup for the Red Bull Ring and I hope to have a chance to undertake some testing beforehand.”