With the penultimate round of the TCR Europe season taking place in Monza this weekend, leaders Franco Girolami has a very real chance of claiming the crown.
The Comtoyou Racing driver sits 78 points clear of Target Competition’s Josh Files at the top of the standings and with Comtoyou teammate Tom Coronel a further 13 points behind. With 96 points up for grabs in qualifying and the two races over the weekend, the chances of Files tacking on such a large haul seem unlikely if he is looking to claim pole position or win a race this season.
There’s nothing to say he won’t eat up Girolami’s lead in Italy, however, and Coronel could do the same as he took pole and won the only race held at the Nurburgring last month because Nebel canceled a day of action. He was on the podium at both Monza races last year while Girolami won one but was 19th in the other.
However, the long straights and heavy braking zones of the 3.6-mile Monza circuit are a different challenge altogether, and the summer trip to the slightly similar Spa-Francorchamps circuit saw Volcano Motorsport’s Cupra León Competición’s Isidro Callejas and Jáchym Galáš Janík Motorsport earned the race while Comtoyou’s Audi RS 3 LMS cars in race trim weren’t quite the package to beat.
TCR Europe takes to the track for the first time over the weekend on Friday afternoon when the half-hour practice sessions take place. The first begins at 12:39 p.m. local time (CEST), the second at 5:36 p.m.
There is an earlier start and finish on Saturday, with qualifying taking place at 09:30. Q1 lasts 20 minutes, then there’s a five-minute break before the drivers who made it into Q2 take to the track for a further 10 minutes to determine who will start from pole in the two races.
The first race follows at 1:40 p.m. and is scheduled to be eight laps long barring safety car stoppages, and the second race starts at 12:25 p.m. on Sunday and will be run over an identical distance.
Almost all the usual contenders will be on the grid, although Janík Motorsport boss Václav Janík has had to climb into the Hyundai Elantra N he normally drives as its driver Mat’o Homola is out with a wrist injury, and the grid will grow with that the return of RC2 junior team trio Rubén Fernández, Felipe Fernández and Sergio López and the addition of Hungarian youngster Levente Losonczy to Aggressive Team Italia and TCR Italy regulars Matteo Poloni and Michele Imberti.