A new season starts. TCR Europe 2022 kicks off in typical touring car style

May 08, 2022

Written by: Chris Hosie

Image Credit: tcr-series.com

last years TCR Europe championship was an absolute cracker. With some of the best touring car action of 2021. Now a new season dawns with new faces, new teams and potentially a new European Champion.

The new season of TCR Europe is set to be one of the most competitive on record. With the best drivers from European and World TCR competition battling for championship honors. The season got underway with qualifying on the Saturday. By the end of the session, it was a Halder motorsport 1, 2 with Mike Halder and Jack Young on the front row with their Honda Civics. Nicola Baldan and Isidro Callejas were on row 2. Rounding out the top 10 were: Kiim Gavrilov, Franco Girolami, Tom Coronel, Josh Files, John Filippi and Pepe Oriola.

Race 1 got underway with 12 laps under the glorious Portuguese sunshine. This was, of course, Saturday’s race. At the start the two Hondas got a terrific jump but were chased by the Hyundai Elantra of Baldan. Halder took the lead with his teammate in second. Further back in the pack, the midfield runners were arguing over space with some cars going off and kicking up the dust. Thankfully, with no damage to any cars.

During the race Callejas and Girolami battled over fifth position. The battle becoming very close and personal on occasions. Eventually the Spaniard won out and would keep fourth place. Girolami would get fifth, despite his Audi incurring some damage in his battle with the seat. Further back Coronel, Files and Filippi were squabbling over positions in the top 6-10. This battle included Gavrilov and former WTCC star, Pepe Oriola. He was also battling hard for points in the top 10. Files briefly put pressure on the fourth-place duel but would drop back later on.

Up at the front, Mike Halder had the lead but his teammate was on a flyer. Eventually passing his team boss on the fourth lap at the Turn 5 hairpin. From there, Young would never look back and the former WTCC and Clio Cup star would take a commanding lead and an easy win in the first race of the 2022 season. His teammate Halder in second and Baldan claiming third. His Hyundai slightly off the pace of the civics on this occasion. Josh Files came home 10th with Filippi and Coronel finishing sixth and eighth respectively. 

It wasn’t all easy going for the TCR Europe field. Mato Homola would finish 12th in race one and Mike Halder’s sister, Michelle would come home 15. Martin Ryba and Giacomo Ghermandi would finish well down the field. Especially after a near miss at the turn 5 hairpin.

The second race was another 12-lap sprint. Only, this time, it was Pepe Oriola who was on pole position. John Filippi would line up second with Files and Coronel rounding out the top four starters. Jack Young and Mike Halder were rounded out the top 10 for race 2. Other drivers to watch included Gavrilov and Callejas. Along with the Hyundai’s of Baldan, Jachym Galas and Felice Jelmini. Another driver to watch was Mato Homola, one of the most experienced TCR contenders on the grid.

The race got underway in the sunshine of a Sunday afternoon. Oriola got a bad start and immediately came under attack from Filippi. The Spaniard miraculously holding on to the lead by turn 3. Behind him, the field disputed track position and real estate. But not without cost. Homola made contact with the Seat of Gustavo Moura JR. resulting in both cars sustaining damage. Filippi was also in trouble after making contact at the start with Oriola. He was now in a fierce battle Girolami. The Italian took second but Filippi would take it back again. It was a real ding-dong battle for second and through the rest of the field.

Lap 3 saw a brief rest as the safety car was called to retrieve the stricken Seat of Moura Jr of the track. He along with Homola would retire from the race. After a couple of laps, racing got underway again and it would produce more close quarters racing. Young and Halder were on a charge through the top 10. Despite opposition from Gavrilov. Also in a tough scrap were the Elantra’s of Galas and Jelmini, along with Josh files, as they also tried to keep the Halder Motorsport Hondas at bay.

It was another torrid race for Giacomo Ghermandi. He, once again, got into trouble with a Honda at the tricky Turn 5 Hairpin. No damage was done and he finished 20th.

Lap 10 saw a real shuffle of the order. Young, Gavrilov and Callejas were 3 wide on the start/finish straight. Then, contact was made and the Honda of young dropped back four positions along with Callejas.

Back up front Filippi was down to fourth and Tom Coronel was in pursuit of Oriola and Girolami. Once again the two leaders dueled for the lead on the restart and after several tense laps, it was Girolami who finally overhauled Oriola and got the lead.

When the final flag fell it was Girolami who took victory with Oriola and Coronel rounding out the podium. Filippi held of Gavrilov for fourth place while the Hondas of Young and Mike Halder finished ninth and 10th respectively.

In the championship standing it is Franco Girolami who leads the points ahead of: Jack young, Mike Halder, Josh Files, Pepe Oriola, Isidro Callejas, Kiim Gavrilov, Tom Coronel, John Filippi and Nicola Baldan rounding out the top 10.

That concluded an epic and ultra-competitive start to the 2022 season. As usual the TCR Europe series showcasing drama and excitement right to the end.

Can Girolami extend his lead in the points? Will the Halder Hondas be a dominant force in future events? Can the Seats and Hyundai’s take the fight to the Audis and Hondas and show them who’s boss. Find out next time out in France at the Circuit de Paul Richard. For round two of the 2022 TCR Europe series.


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