Vallelunga, Race final: second consecutive win for Konukoǧlu/Brigliadori (Audi RS3) – TEXACO Team AMS

After a phenomenal performance in stage 1, Turgut Konukoǧlu and Eric Brigliadori managed to keep their lead intact during the second half of the race in TCR European Endurance, thus taking home the win at the Autodromo di Vallelunga. The Audi RS3 LMS #2 of TEXACO Team AMS secured the second victory in a row in dominant fashion, taking the checkered flag first in stage two as well.

It wasn’t easy however at the start for Konukoǧlu, who got overtaken by both Audis of Tommaso Fossati and Sandro Pelatti – the latter taking the lead after the first few metres. The first half of stage two saw the PMA Motorsport driver build a healthy lead over Fossati, who had to keep Konukoǧlu at bay throughout the first 25 minutes of racing. Behind them, the Gen-1 Audi RS3 of Barkin Pinar kept fourth place from the start, with Seda Kaçan (Audi RS3 DSG) and Alberto Rodio (Cupra TCR DSG) fighting for top spot in the DSG class.

As the pit stop window rolled around, it was the other Cupra TCR DSG of Brothers in Arms to enter the pit lane first, with Claudio Gentili giving the car to his brother Adriano from third place in the DSG standings. Soon after, TEXACO Team AMS called Konukoǧlu in for an early pit stop, hoping that Eric Brigliadori’s out lap would give them an advantage over their rivals. This decision proved to be correct, as Brigliadori got the lead of the race the following lap after Pelatti and Fossati brought their Audis to the pits. The race was briefly led by Pinar – an impressive feat for the sole Gen-1 entry of the series – before the Turk entered the pit lane to give the car to his teammate Zekai Özen.

The race was then controlled by Brigliadori, who kept his cool as the gap between Pelatti and him kept growing. On the other hand, the PMA Motorsport driver was looking to secure second place, fighting off Fox Racing Team’s Filippo Barberi. Unfortunately, the young Italian suffered a technical failure with just three minutes left on the clock, therefore losing third place in the overall standings in dramatic fashion. This led to an all Turkish duel for the final step on the overall podium, with Ibrahim Okyay looking to defend from Özen.

As the clock struck zero, it was Brigliadori who took the checkered flag first – despite a 15-second penalty for not having served the minimum pit stop time – thus winning the second race of the season with a 47-second gap on Pelatti. In the fight for third, though Okyay managed to stay in front until the end of the race, the number 4 car was hit with a five-second penalty for the same reason as his teammate, which demoted them to fourth in the standings and leading the #3 Audi of Pinar/Özen to take the final step on the podium after their great performance on Saturday. Okyay and his teammate Seda Kaçan were still able to take home the DSG class win, ahead of RC Motorsport’s Paolino/Rodio and the Brothers in Arms’ Cupra driven by Adriano and Claudio Gentili.

With the second round of the season now in the books, the TCR European Endurance will be back in action in a month’s time, with the Misano World Circuit ready to host the third race of the season on June 22nd.


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