American Kevin Gleason secured his first ever TCR International Series victory with a dominant lights-to-flag performance in the first race held at the Salzburgring in Austria.
The WestCoast Racing pilot took Pole Position in Qualifying on Saturday in his Honda Civic and took the lead from the start of the race of which he would never lose. Team-mate Gianni Morbidelli made a slow start from second on the grid and lost out to Team Target Competition‘s Stefano Comini on the run to the chicane. As the field squeezed through the chicane, Engstler Motorsport‘s Mikhail Grachev made contact with Andrea Belicchi.
Gleason led from Comini, Morbidelli, Craft-Bamboo‘s Pepe Oriola in fourth place with stable-mate Jordi Gene pursued by Belicchi. Sergei Afanseyev, Igor Skuz in the third WestCoast Honda, Lorenzo Veglia and Michel Nykjaer were the top ten for the first few laps on the high speed Austrian circuit. Morbidelli, laden with 30kgs of success ballast, was unable to close on Comini in the first part of the race and would go defensive against the SEATs of Oriola and Gene as the race progressed.
The action kicked off on lap seven as Veglia touched Skuz as he looked to passhim, with Skuz spinning the Honda into the barrier. Two laps later, Morbidelli closed on Comini and began looking for a way past. However Oriola pounced on the Italian and this distraction saw both Gene and Belicchi make their way past the battling pair. In the closing laps, Belicchi managed to pass Gene for third.
Gleason took the race win, ahead of Comini and Belicchi. Gene finished fourth ahead of Morbidelli and Oriola with Veglia, Sergei Afanasyev in the third Craft-Bamboo car whilst series returnee Bas Schouten finished in ninth place. The Campos Racing Opel Astras had a difficult weekend after their Monza performance. Fernando Monje had issues with his car due to engine mapping problems, whilst his team-mate for the weekend, veteran touring car driver Markus Ostreich, managed to stay out of trouble and score his first TCR point in tenth place. Retirements included Zolt Szabo in the Zengo Motorsport Junior SEAT, Michel Nykjaer, Igor Skuz and Mikhail Grachev.
Race Two sees Igor Skuz starting from Pole Position ahead of Michel Nykjaer.