Vedat Ali Dalokay and Franco Girolami on top of TCR Italy in Vallelunga

Vedat Ali Dalokay and Franco Girolami on top of TCR Italy in Vallelunga

Vedat Ali Dalokay (Audi RS3 DSG) is the new Italian TCR DSG Champion, while Franco Girolami (Audi RS3 LMS) returns to the top of the overall classification in TCR Italy

Vallelunga crowns the first champion of the season for TCR Italy. Vedat Ali Dalokay (Audi RS3 DSG) won the TCR DSG title thanks to his second place in race-2, one round before the end of the season. The Turk, who won six of the ten races held in 2023, only needed second place in race-2 to mathematically become champion with the Bitci Racing Team AMS. The victories on the Capitoline circuit, however, went to Eric Brigliadori (Audi RS3 DSG) fielded by RC Motorsport who marked his return to the series for national front-wheel drive cars. In the series with sequential gearbox, successes went respectively to Aurelien Comte (Cupra Leon Competicion) and Franco Girolami (Audi RS3 LMS), who revolutionized the rankings. The Argentine now leads with 14 points over the Frenchman heading into the final stage in Imola.

Vedat Ali Dalokay (Audi RS3 DSG) surrendered in race-2 of the TCR DSG to Eric Brigliadori (Audi RS3 DSG) who repeated the success achieved on Saturday by also triumphing in the second race of the Rome weekend. The driver from Forlì started from eighth position on the grid due to the reversal of the top eight in qualifying, and on the first lap he managed to recover three positions. Brigliadori continued his comeback, overtaking Luigi Gallo (Audi RS3 DSG) and Mauro Trentin (Cupra Leon) before closing on Dalokay in an attempt to take the race lead; the overtake came during the eighth lap, when Brigliadori attacked the Turk inside the Soratte, thus taking the lead.

Dalokay then saw the return of Pietro Alessi (Cupra Leon DSG) in the final laps: the PMA Motorsport standard-bearer attempted to overtake on lap 15, however hitting the Turk and sending him into a spin. Dalokay managed to restart, maintaining second position, while Alessi suffered extensive damage to the right front suspension and was forced to retire, also receiving a 2 place grid penalty in the next race for causing the contact. Once he took the lead, Brigliadori continued to pull ahead of his rivals; the debutant in the TCR DSG thus repeated the success of race 1, also taking victory in the second heat of the weekend, finishing with an almost 20 second margin over Dalokay. Thanks to the second position, the Turk thus became the new Italian TCR DSG Champion, winning the title even before arriving in Imola for the final round of the season. Barberi finished third, overtaking Trentin two minutes from the end of the race and relegating the driver from Padua to fourth place; fifth position for Gallo, who crossed the finish line ahead of Palanti, sixth on arrival. Seventh place for poleman Loia, while Giorgio Fantilli (Cupra Leon) finished eighth.

Eric Brigliadori (Audi RS3 DSG), who in the 2020 and 2021 seasons fought for the overall title in the TCR Italy, made his debut in the TCR DSG the first race of the  week making the most of pole position achieved on Friday. The start was made behind the safety car, with the safety car covering one lap of the track and then giving the drivers the green light; Brigliadori led the group towards the first corner, with Pietro Alessi (Cupra Leon) and Filippo Barberi (Audi RS3 DSG) behind the young driver from Forlì.

Brigliadori then demonstrated excellent race pace, adjusting his fastest lap several times and moving ahead of his rivals; behind him, Alessi had to guard against the attacks of Barberi and Dalokay, with the three drivers fighting for second position throughout the central part of the race. However, Barberi was unable to overtake his rival, while Dalokay lost ground, with Gallo catching him in the hope of fighting for fourth position. The second heat of the weekend was however canceled out with ten minutes to go due to darkness, with the red flag being shown on lap fifteen with less than a minute left on the clock. Brigliadori was thus able to celebrate the success, while Alessi took home a good second place on his debut. Third position for Barberi, while Dalokay had to settle for fourth place. Fifth position for Gallo, while Mauro Trentin (Cupra Leon) finished in sixth place; seventh Niccolò Loia (Volkswagen Golf), with Palanti finishing behind him in eighth place. Giorgio Fantilli (Cupra Leon) and Francesco Cardone (Volkswagen Golf) closed the top-10.

In a weekend characterized by the awarding of the title in the TCR DSG, the TCR Italy also offered two races full of emotions. Aurélien Comte (Cupra Leon Competicion) took home the success in the first race of the weekend at the Vallelunga Autodrome: on the “Piero Taruffi” circuit the Frenchman took the victory at the end of a race full of twists and turns until on the last lap. Starting from fourth place, the SP Competition standard bearer maintained his position, while poleman Niels Langeveld (Honda FL5) retained the lead of the race. Comte then led the attack on Marco Butti (Hyundai Elantra N), thus taking third place on the fifth lap; However, in the following lap the rider from Como slowed down noticeably due to a problem with a coil, and he returned to the pits. Tire management was the variable that characterized the rest of the race: in the ninth lap, Langeveld was forced to give up the lead of the race, returning to the pits following a puncture on the front left and leaving the way for Ruben Volt (Honda FL5). The Estonian tried to impose his pace, but instead suffered the return of Comte: the Frenchman in fact took the lead of the race at the Tornantino during the twelfth lap, with Volt who was then forced to retire due to a problem with the turbo; same fate in the following lap for Felice Jelmini (Audi RS3 LMS), who after giving up third place to Rubén Fernàndez (Audi RS3 LMS) ended race 1 early, stopping on the way out of the pit lane due to a problem with the fuel pump.

No problem however for Comte, who triumphed for the second time in the season after the success obtained in race-1 at the Mugello International Circuit, while GIrolami crossed the finish line in second position behind the Frenchman. Third on arrival, Rubén Fernàndez (Audi RS3 LMS) was excluded from the final classification of the first race as there was one more smooth disc inside the differential of his car than the permitted limit. Denis Babuin therefore climbed to third place, achieving his second podium of the year after the one obtained in Misano in race 1, as well as taking victory in the ACI Sport Master Cup. However, the ranking remains sub-judice as Auto Club RC2 Valles has appealed. Fourth position for Michele Imberti (Hyundai i30 N), who missed the podium by just 545 thousandths. Fifth Levente Losonczy (Hyundai Elantra N), with the Aggressive Team Italia standard-bearer who preceded the other Elantra N of Park Junesung in the sprint; seventh place for Cosimo Barberini (Cupra Leon Competicion), while Paolo Rocca (Honda Civic FK7) finished in eighth place. Sylvain Pussier (Cupra Leon Competicion) and Nicola Guida (Audi RS3 LMS) closed the top-10.

The TCR Italy race 2 ranking is also sub-judice following the appeal made to the decisions of the sports commissioners. Franco Girolami (Audi RS3 LMS) instead won race 2 at the Vallelunga Autodrome: in the last heat of the penultimate round of the season, the Argentinian achieved his second success of 2023, thus taking the lead in the overall classification. At the start, poleman Paolo Rocca (Honda Civic FK7) lost six positions following an unfortunate sprint, and it was therefore Rubén Fernàndez (Audi RS3 LMS) who gained first position; Girolami moved up to second place, with Marco Butti (Hyundai Elantra N) moving up to third place after starting sixth.

Rubén Fernàndez maintained the lead in the first laps of the race despite the pressure exerted by Girolami; the two Honda FL5s of Ruben Volt and Niels Langeveld began to recover positions, mending the gap created by the first three finishers. Fernández, who up to that point had led the race, however gave way to Girolami on the tenth lap, when the Argentine led the attack on his rival; the Auto Club RC2 standard bearer Valles then suffered Butti's attack, finishing wide at the Roma curve and allowing Volt and Langeveld to overtake him, before making a mistake in turn 3 and slipping to eighth. Once he took the lead, Girolami maintained the lead of the race until the checkered flag, thus achieving his second success of the season and regaining the leadership of the overall classification with 346 points, 14 more than Comte.

Second at the end of the race, Marco Butti (Hyundai Elantra N) received a 5-second penalty for causing contact with the car of Niels Langeveld (Honda Civic FL5) during the thirteenth lap. The Como rider thus slipped to fourth position; Langeveld himself inherited second place, while Ruben Volt (Honda Civic FL5) moved up to third place. However, the Target team has appealed against the decision of the sports commissioners, and the ranking is therefore sub-judice. Fifth position for Comte, while Michele Imberti (Hyundai i30 N) finished in sixth position; the Bergamo native preceded both Jelmini and Rubén Fernàndez in the sprint, seventh and eighth respectively. Ninth position for Park Junui (Hyundai Elantra N), while Cosimo Barberini (Cupra Leon Competicion) closed the top-10.

TCR Italy and the TCR DSG will return to the track in two weeks to write the last chapter of the season: the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola will host the final act of the Italian series dedicated to touring cars from 27 to 29 October.

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