Two thrilling Pool A Round 1 Battles kicked off PURE ETCR Race SP at MotorLand Aragón with Rodrigo Baptista and series leader Mikel Azcona both claiming early victories.
Romeo Ferraris – M1RA racer Baptista drove a clever Race in Battle 1, saving much of his 40 seconds of Power-Up until the final two laps, and keeping the nose of his Giulia ETCR by Romeo Ferraris clean while his rivals disputed the lead.
Those rivals were CUPRA X Zengo Motorsport’s Jordi Gené and Hyundai Motorsport N’s Tom Chilton; the latter starting on the advantageous inside line, but dropping back to third off the line and fighting back on several occasions.
Amid the non-stop action, Gené and Chilton banged wheels going into Turn 1 on the final lap, providing Baptista with all the motivation he needed.
Passing Chilton on the run to the hairpin, Baptista then overhauled Gene by 0.051s on the run to the line in a truly heart-stopping finish.
“It’s the best way to start the weekend,” said Baptista.
“I didn’t have the radio working so I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening with the other two cars, but I kept a bit of the Power-Up to the end and I’m really happy to finish first in this first Battle.”
In Battle 2 Azcona won to increase his series lead to 20 points; the Spaniard triumphing after a tense battle with Hyundai’s Augusto Farfus that was only resolved with one lap remaining.
Azcona, Farfus and Stefano Coletti (Romeo Ferraris – M1RA) all out-braked themselves into the first corner of the Battle, each short-cutting the circuit and being forced to drive slowly around the cones in the escape road before resuming the fight.
A brief trip through the gravel for Coletti meant victory came down to a straight fight between Azcona and Farfus, which was resolved in favour of the CUPRA driver after he and his rival ran side-by-side for three corners.
The results mean that Baptista and Azcona will face off in Round 2 with Gené against Farfus and Chilton against Coletti.