After enjoying a double podium weekend at the Autodromo di Monza, Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL has now made their way to Austria for the sixth round of the TCR International Series. Further closing the gap in the team’s championship, they are now only 15 points behind and will be mounting another championship point assault at the Salzburgring this weekend. Pepe Oriola and Jordi Gené were both able to take second place on the podium in Monza, with both drivers adding to their championship point haul to remain in close contention for the top positions.
The Austrian round of the series marks the end of an intense month of racing in Europe, with four races held over as many weeks. Gené further added to his championship points tally with some strong results in Monza and is now within five points of his teammate and fellow Spaniard, Oriola. Gené will be doing all he can to close the championship lead gap, but thanks to scoring 30 points in the previous round he will have to deal with 20kg of Success Ballast. Gené managed some great results in Monza with the maximum ballast imposed and he will be pushing hard once more to continue his climb up the leader board.
While Oriola scored a podium in race one that provisionally gave him the championship lead, the young driver was forced off the track and into retirement in race two, halting his championship takeover. Now third in the drivers’ standings, Oriola will be looking for a clean race weekend at the Salzburgring so he can maximize the amount of points in an effort to overtake second placed Comini and leader, Morbidelli.
Sergey Afanaysev will have a tough start to the weekend, with a five place grid penalty applied to him for race one after an incident at the Roggia chicane in Monza. The trio of Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL drivers only need 15 points to take first place in the teams’ championship and their main focus will be scoring the maximum number of points in both races.
Like Monza before it, the Salzburgring is another high-speed circuit and one that will suit the Hondas. The team will be employing a variety of measures to counteract the top speed deficit as best as possible, with teamwork an important aspect of qualifying once again. Slip streaming will also be used by the three drivers, a technique that will surely create some very close wheel to wheel racing on the narrow Austrian circuit.
The 4.241-km circuit features nine corners and is situated low in an alpine valley. It has a simple layout with two long straights that will provide the high speed action. The fast, sweeping paddock turn “Fahrerlagerkurve” and the narrow ‘Nockstein-Kehre’ hairpin break up the fast paced sections of the circuit and provide a technical challenge for the drivers.
Free test sessions will be held on Friday, May 29th, with practice and qualifying scheduled for Saturday, 30th of May 15:00-15:35 (Q1+Q2). Race one coverage will begin on Sunday, 31st of May from 12:35-13:05 (Local Time), while race two will be held in the afternoon, 14:05-14:35. Both races will follow the format of 15 Laps, with live streaming from the Salzburgring, Austria, available on the series’ official website www.tcr-series.com.
The pursuit of the inaugural TCR international title would not be possible without the support of LUKOIL, Gravity, Team Dynamics and Orangebus.
Pepe Oriola, #74 Driver
“This weekend it is very important for me to score points in both races and avoid an unnecessary retirement like the one I faced in Monza. I can’t afford to lose any more points at this stage in the season; it is very competitive now between the top four drivers.”
Sergey Afanaysev, #77 Driver
“The team has done a great job repairing my car after the accident last week so I really thank them for that. It is going to be a tough first race with the grid penalty though, so I will need to do my absolute best in qualifying to give me a better chance. We are very close in the teams’ championship so I hope that this weekend we can all come away with some excellent results and get on top.”
Jordi Gené, #88 Driver
“I am excited for this race because I am now very close to the leaders and can really challenge for the championship. I will be dealing with 20kg of ballast this weekend, so once again it will make things more difficult but I hope for some good results.”
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“The team has done a great job in what is the busiest month of the TCR series calendar and the Salzburgring is another exciting circuit. We have seen how strong the Hondas are on high-speed tracks such as this so we know there is going to be stiff competition. I hope that the team can score some good results and avoid any contact that leads to retirement.”