Comini TCR champion after Macau crash chaos
Stefano Comini won the inagural TCR International Series drivers' championship on Sunday with victory in the Macau finale on a day marred by two big crashes.
The Swiss driver clinched the crown after a clash with title rival Pepe Oriola on Lap 8 of the second race put the Portuguese racer out of the event with accident damage.
Comini had led from the start, but faced intense pressure from Oriola, and the pair even brushed doors several times at Lisboa.
The matter was finally settled when Oriola made contact with the rear of Comini under braking for Lisboa on the eighth lap. Although making it around the corner, Oriola's car slowed almost immediately and he came to a stop shortly afterwards with smoke pouring from his engine, ending his championship hopes there and then.
Comini went on to to win the race and the title – finishing ahead of Andrea Belicchi and Mikhail Grachev.
Francisco Mora was taken to hospital for precautionary checks following a huge crash on the opening lap of the first race.
The Portuguese driver hit the wall at Mandarin and as the following cars tried to avoid him, Kenneth Lau clipped Frank Yu before hitting Mora's stricken Seat side-on.
Race 2's accident was much bigger, as pole position man Rob Huff, who had dominated the day's first race, and front row starter Jordi Gene tangled on the run through the first gentle left-hander after the start.
The collision pitched them both into the barriers, and there was total chaos behind as the following pack piled in to the instigators and each other. Ten cars were eliminated in the accident and, with the track blocked, there was no option but to bring out the red flag.
Huff, who had dominated the first race, said: “It was totally unnecessary. It looked like Jordi understeered in front of me, but I am not sure. It is very frustrating, but I am OK.”
Gene added: “I think we were both looking for the same space. There was a barrier on the left and I could not go any more left. He hit my right [rear] tyre and I lost control. That is it.”
The Spaniard has been taken to hospital complaining of sore ribs, and was fined $1000 for causing the crash.
Comini only wanted win
Comini was clearly delighted – both that he had won at Macau on his debut there and having cliched the championship.
“I have no words to explain how I feel,” he said. “It is really something special to win the championship and to win Macau. To do both together is just 'wow'.
“It was a difficult day. In race one, Jordi Gene did something to block me in sector two, so it was hard to keep Pepe behind me in race one.
“Race two was more easy, and I think Pepe was a little stressed to be second for the championship and he pushed me a lot.”
Comini made it clear, however, that he never thought of giving up the position to Oriola, even though second would have been good enough for the title.
“I wanted the victory,” he said. “When I saw that the unlucky Huff was in the wall, I was thinking in my mind that I could do it.”
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