Azcona heads Pool B with perfect score after two commanding Battle wins
King of Copenhagen Philipp Eng in front in Pool A for Romeo Ferraris-M1RA
Mattias Ekström and Augusto Farfus collide; Brazilian penalised
Mikel Azcona was the man to beat at PURE ETCR Race HU as the Spaniard ended the opening day of competition with a pair of Battle wins in Pool B and a perfect score at the Hungaroring.
In front of a sizeable Saturday crowd, who were experiencing the world’s first all-electric, multi-brand touring car series for the first time, Azcona was in commanding form for the Budapest-based CUPRA X Zengo Motorsport team.
Having Celebrated St Stephen’s Day – a national holiday in Hungary – 24 hours earlier and then taken pole position for the accompanying WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup at the same track, Zengo’s weekend had already been a successful one by the time Azcona lined up under the PURE ETCR Starting Gate for Round 2.
By that stage he’d already taken an opening-round win following a sensational first-lap Battle with Hyundai Motorsport N’s Jean-Karl Vernay and Romeo Ferraris-M1RA’s Luca Filippi.
He then defeated Filippi’s team-mate Rodrigo Baptista in the afternoon to reach the halfway point with an untainted 27 points – the maximum available.
The key to his victory being a clever use of his Power-Up exiting Turn 1 on the opening lap; unleashing the mind-blowing potential of his 500kW (670bhp) electric powerplant and crucially pushing him in front.
There was additional joy for the CUPRA squad when local hero Dániel Nagy took his first Battle win in Round 2; benefitting from a three-second penalty given to Vernay for exceeding track limits.
The flashpoint of the day happened in Pool A as Round 1 winners Augusto Farfus and Mattias Ekström faced off in Round 2.
Farfus won in his Hyundai but was later penalised six championship points when the Race Stewards judged him to be ‘wholly responsible’ for a collision at Turn 4 that put both himself and the series leader off the road as the Brazilian attempted to overtake.
That penalty for Farfus means that Romeo Ferraris-M1RA driver Philipp Eng heads the pool overnight with 22 points – an identical scenario to what happened two weeks ago in Copenhagen.
While Eng – who defeated rookie team-mate Luigi Ferrara in Round 2 – will surely be keen to repeat his King of the Weekend victory from Denmark, the same can be said of his team-mate Baptista – third in Pool B after a Round 1 win of his own.
The other winners on the day were Hyundai’s John Filippi in Pool A and Luca Filippi in his Giulia ETCR by Romeo Ferraris.
Mikel Azcona said: “After a really tough weekend in Denmark, we’ve worked very hard with my team-mates to work on the set-up and get a good feeling. In the last battle with Baptista I felt quite good. Even starting from the outside this morning I was really confident of getting good positions in the Battles. I feel quite fast, which is important for the Time Trial. We’ll keep working to improve for tomorrow, because it won’t be an easy day.”
Philipp Eng said: “It’s been a day of very hard racing. We’re in a good position with the points, but PURE ETCR is set up in such a way that with the Time Trial and SuperFinal tomorrow, you still have no idea who is going to win on Saturday night and there are many drivers that can do it. Today I had some contact once or twice in the Battles; it was hard racing and it was touring car racing. I probably used too much of my Power-Up early in Battle 1 and Augusto [Farfus] was more clever in how he used it. It’s a good day.”
Augusto Farfus said: “We’ve had good speed today and my approach is I can definitely still win the whole event tomorrow. For the incident with Mattias, I have to accept the penalty, but if the occasion repeated itself then very likely I’d go for the same move again because there was a gap and an opportunity. I used the Power-Up after Turn 4 and maybe Mattias didn’t expect it at that place, so the combination of all this meant side-by-side contact. But we turn the page and go again tomorrow.”
Mattias Ekstrom said: “We are really here and dedicated to winning. Ayrton Senna said ‘if you don’t go for a gap, you’re not a racing driver. Augusto knows who is leading the championship, so he needs to catch up. In the opposite situation, if he was leading the championship then I don’t think he’d have tried it. Sometimes you give trouble to someone and sometimes you take it. I’ve been giving it a lot over the years, so when I get it back, although you don’t want to be on the receiving end, you have to take it.”