Franco Girolami wins TCR Europe’s first career victory in Race 2
Franco Girolami of PSS Racing showed confidence to claim his first TCR Europe Series victory in race two at Zandvoort.
The Honda Civic Type-R rider, whose best result this season before Zandvoort was third in Slovakia, started third on the grid but quickly progressed in the opening laps to overtake pole sitter Sami Taoufik.
Girolami then moved closer and passed Taoufik’s teammate Sébastien Loeb Racing Niels Langeveld with a strong pass at Turn 11 to grab a lead he held to the flag.
Langeveld retained second place at the finish, with Isidro Callejas of Brutal Fish Racing taking his first TCR Europe podium in third.
Race 1 runner-up Jack Young could not replicate the result of his teammate Callejas after losing several places following a mad race in the gravel trying to overtake Taoufik.
Taoufik got off to a good start on the line first, as he and Langeveld raced side by side to take the lead in the opening sequence of the turns. Langeveld, who had to push Girolami back to Tarzan, eventually snatched Taoufik’s head, the latter going through Girolami outside the turn 11 chicane.
Taoufik was then driven into the gravel at the exit and dropped to sixth place behind teammate Mehdi Bennani, while Girolami set his sights on Langeveld in the lead.
Further on, Tom Coronel was slowed down with a problem, but trying to get away from Hugenholtz in the second round contact was made between Klim Gavrilov of VRT-Team and Felice Jelmini of SLR.
Jelmini lost a wheel in the incident, forcing the safety car to deploy.
By this point, Girolami had already taken Langeveld’s advantage for the lead, after a bashing movement from the panel at Turn 11. Girolami pushed Langeveld out of Turn 10 and the pair ran side-to-side in the back all. straight to corner braking zone 11.
Girolami moved slightly to resume the road then took the lead at the entrance.
The Argentinian strayed from restarting the safety car and was rarely challenged afterwards.
Eager to progress on his own, Young attempted to make forays into the peloton and tried to get around Taoufik’s exterior on the Schievlak at high speed, but missed the road and understeered off the track.
The Honda bounced through the gravel pit and nearly hit the barriers, but Young stayed the course, falling to 17th place.
One of the driving forces behind the race was his return to ninth place at the finish. The Honda’s pace was obvious and Young pulled off a number of bold passes, often under braking to get Tarzan some useful points for his championship bid.
Out of the podium the battle was just as intense, Dušan Borković ended a positive weekend in the Audi RS 3 LMS Comtoyou Racing with fourth place.
Borković managed to take a decisive step over Bennani in the Tarzan race before completely rounding the exterior of Team Clairet Sport’s Peugeot 308TCR of Jimmy Clairet for fourth place.
Clairet clung to fifth place at the end, ahead of Bennani, while Taoufik finished seventh in the second Hyundai.
Nicolas Baert of Comtoyou Racing had a quiet race in eighth place, ahead of the impressive Young while Girolami’s teammate Viktor Davidovski completed the top 10.