Estoril TCR: Morbidelli outduels Homola for Race 1 win
WestCoast Racing's Gianni Morbidelli was victorious in the first TCR International Series race at Estoril, securing his triumph with a late pass on poleman Mat'o Homola.
At the start, Honda driver Morbidelli powered past the SEAT of Homola, who was subsequently under serious threat of slipping behind a fast-starting Aku Pellinen as well.
However, Pellinen ran wide while trying to complete the pass round the outside of Turn 1, instead falling prey to Jean-Karl Vernay.
A lap later, Homola retook the lead in the very same corner, diving down the inside of Morbidelli, albeit he did not manage to shake off the Italian.
During the first half of the race, Morbidelli remained at around half a second behind Homola - and he was all over the Slovakian by lap 9.
He hounded Homola all throughout the next lap, before unsuccessfully attempting a desperate dive down the inside of the Gancho chicane on lap 11.
Finally, the Italian managed to barge his way into the lead on lap 12, and, before Homola could respond, Vernay forced his way into second in the chicane.
The top two was settled from that point on, Morbidelli edging a solid gap over Vernay, while reigning champion Stefano Comini managed to pass Homola with two laps to go to secure his first podium of the campaign.
It was only fourth for Homola, with Craft-Bamboo Lukoil duo Sergey Afanasyev and James Nash passing Pellinen for fifth and sixth.
Points leader Pepe Oriola was just eighth, ahead of Loris Hazemans and Francisco Mora, who picked up the spot after Dusan Borkovic clashed with Mikhail Grachev on the final lap.
Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil aiming for the podium in Portugal
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