Finishes third in standings; Luca claims Junior Driver title
Our customers, Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team ended the 2021 WTCR season on a high at the final round of the year, Race of Russia, with Jean-Karl finishing third overall in the drivers’ standings and Luca securing the Junior Driver title.
Jean-Karl’s impressive efforts in the rain at Sochi Autodrom saw him narrowly miss out on his third victory of the season. He charged from third to second with his Elantra N TCR in Race 1 before a safety car was called. After the restart, he powered into the lead of the race and saw off various challenges for his position during the race, before he had to concede it on the final lap. He took the chequered flag in second place.
The Frenchman started in seventh in Race 2, and was firmly in the battle for second place in the final laps, but ultimately finished in fifth.
“We started the weekend well and did a great job in Race 1 to finish second, which helped us to secure third place in the drivers’ standings,” said Jean-Karl. “We couldn’t have done better in my opinion.”
His team-mate Luca elected to gamble in the damp qualifying session, fitting his car with two slicks and two wet weather tyres. The German discovered the conditions were worse than expected, and he had to pit for four wet tyres. This compromised his session, and he qualified 15th.
With his Race 2 performance, Luca snatched a last-gasp lead of the Junior Driver standings for the first time this season – and when it truly mattered. Starting 14th, he powered up to ninth before the safety car, and was running as high as eighth. He crossed the line 10th to secure his first WTCR title.
“I am very happy to secure the Junior Drive title in the end,” he said after the final race. “The races were good. The goal was to bring the car home; it was quite dangerous at times racing here but I enjoyed it.”
For BRC Racing Team, Race of Russia marked the closure of a monumental chapter in the team’s history as its driver, Gabriele, retired from professional racing.
The final event of the season proved to be a difficult affair, as the car had the maximum compensation weight. A tricky qualifying saw Norbert classed 12th and Gabriele 16th overall.
Both drivers managed the treacherous conditions in Race 1 to successfully gain positions; Norbert climbed four places to eighth, while Gabriele moved into the points. They finished 12 and 14th overall.
As chaos unfolded in Race 2, Norbert once again moved up to eight with his Elantra N TCR. Although he briefly fell back to ninth, he was able to regain the position in the final laps.
“My races were ok, but I’m not happy with my results today,” he admitted. “In the end I’m sad because of qualifying, which should have been better.”
His team-mate Gabriele ended his career much like he started – with a crash. Having progressed up the order to 12th, a mistake on the seventh lap saw him tangle with the car in front, and he retired from his final WTCR race.
“This was not the final event I expected, it was a tough race weekend for us in Russia,” said Gabriele in summary. “On the other hand, my career finished as it started fifty years ago – with a crash – so there is a symmetry there that made me smile under my helmet.”