Néstor Girolami scores his maiden win on his Hyundai debut

Néstor Girolami scores his maiden win on his Hyundai debut

21 April 2024

Néstor Girolami took a lights-to-flag victory in the dramatic second race of the Kumho FIA TCR World Tour in Vallelunga, winning in his BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Elantra ahead of the Lynk & Co of Santiago Urrutia, while the focus of the race was the intense battle for the final podium position, which eventually went to local star Marco Butti’s GOAT Racing Honda.

Girolami, who failed to get away from the grid yesterday, made a perfect start today and led the way ahead of Urrutia and the Volcano Motorsport Audi of John Filippi into T1. Butti, who’d made up one spot on Ma Qing Hua at the start, then went side-by-side through T4 with Filippi, with the two abreast for two corners before they made slight contact at the exit of T6 with Filippi running wide and dropping down the order.

The race was held behind the safety car when the two Audi cars of Filippo Barberi, who was under investigation for jumping the start and Sami Taoufik, made contact at T8 with both cars retiring. The race was briefly restarted on lap 3, but when the Audi of Victor Fernández spun on his own and hit the barriers at T3, the safety car was deployed again while the track was cleared of debris.

The race resumed on lap 8, and there was drama for Cyan Racing’s Yann Ehrlacher, whose Lynk & Co’s bonnet had become loose; the French driver was given a black-orange flag and pitted for repairs. Ehrlacher rejoined at the back of the order, eventually recovering to finish 14th.

Girolami was holding a safe distance to Urrutia, while Butti was under attack from the chasing Lynk & Co of Ma as well as his own GOAT Racing teammate Esteban Guerrieri. Ma’s race unravelled on lap 11, when Guerrieri clipped the rear of his car at T11, and the Chinese driver lost several places through the next few corners as Guerrieri, Mikel Azcona, Thed Björk, Norbert Michelisz, and Filippi all made their way past. Butti was defending against his own teammate, but held on to take the podium, with Guerrieri fourth with Azcona just behind them in fifth; however, after the race, Guerrieri was demoted to eighth by a five-second penalty for hitting Ma at the hairpin.

Sandro Pelatti won the Coppa Italia Turismo class of the race, finishing in tenth overall in his PMA Motorsport Audi ahead of Demir Eröge’s Aikoa Racing Audi, with Austrian driver Philipp Mattersdorfer completing the class’s podium in his Duller Motorsport Opel Astra.

Race 1 winner Michelisz finished seventh, and now leads the drivers’ standings on 61 points, 15 clear of his own teammate Azcona.

The series will resume at Marrakech on 3/4 May.


Quotes from the podium finishers

Girolami: “I am really happy. What a way to start a new season with a new team and a new brand! I couldn’t ask for more. All the team is very happy. We have worked so hard, and I can’t wait to congratulate all the guys in the pits because they did an amazing job and I feel so happy about this moment!”

Urrutia: “It was a good weekend. I finished P2... starting from P2. We have a lot of work to do ahead of the next round because we don’t have the speed the Hyundai does. I collected good points, so I am happy. Now we have a free weekend and then we go to Morocco, so we have the time to work.”

Butti: “I had a good start. I went on the outside in turns 3 and 4, and after that I had contact with Filippi. I tried to recover and continue with the race, but it was difficult because I had some issues with the front right wheel. Anyway, I was able to continue at my own pace. We did a great job!”


Vallelunga – Race 2

  1. Néstor Girolami (BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N), 17 laps
  2. Santiago Urrutia (Lynk & Co Cyan Racing, Lynk & Co 03), 3.237
  3. Marco Butti (GOAT Racing, Honda Civic Type R FL5), 11.683


Championship points

  1. N. Michelisz, 61 pts; 2. M. Azcona, 46; 3. M. Butti 42


Picture: WSC/Fastclick



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