Alba Vazquez takes first historic win in Spanish CET
Spanish touring car rookie Alba Vazquez became the first woman to take victory in the Spanish Touring Car championship CET, with a remarkable weekend at Navarra.
At her first season in race cars after graduating from karting, Alba Vazquez has enjoyed an impressive run in the CET Race championship – the Spanish Touring Car Championship that shares the grid with TCR Spain.
Ahead of the Navarra round, fourth out of the five scheduled race meetings, Vazquez sat fourth in the championship standings and led the Female Trophy, as she shares the grid with fellow competitor Marta Ariza.
“The season has been really positive – I come from karting and I do not have touring car experience and it’s a very different car in regards to weight, driving and braking" – explained Vazquez at the Navarra triple-header. "But the adaptation has been really positive, I am fourth in the championship and here in Navarra we're fighting at the front – which means we’re doing a good job.”
On a track where she had previous experience at, having contested pre-season testing, the driver of the #22 Honda Civic Type R CET operated by MRT was more confident entering the race weekend – and results eventually proved her point: after race 2 on Sunday morning, Alba Vazquez became the first ever woman to win a race in the championship.
Isidro Callejas led the overall field of the TCR entries on the starting grid of Race 1 on Saturday, followed by Alejandro Geppert and Daniel Tkachenko. In the CET class, Casalins got away from pole – but was soon chased by Alba Vazquez, who had a fantastic start and gained two positions before Turn 1.
Unfortunately, Aguilera made a late move under braking and hit Vazquez later in the first lap; Alba spun and would rejoin at the tail end of the pack, with an over 15 second gap to the rest of the pack. She charged back and significantly reduced the gap over the course of the race, but she couldn't finish higher than fifth.
Casalins and Aguilera battled for victory – and after heavy defensive driving from the former, Aguilera would find a way past by taking advantage of the lapping stages from TCR leader Callejas with one minute to go.
But history was about to be written in Race 2, when an action-packed race saw several turns of events. Erik Zabala led Casalins and Vazquez at the start, but there was early drama when, on the second lap, Tkachenko lost the car at Turn 3 and took out Geppert. The accident brought out a lengthy Safety Car to recover the stricken cars.
Meanwhile, Alba Vazquez had dropped to fourth place in CET, behind Zabala, Aguilera and Casalins. Soon after the restart though, the race leader dramatically slowed down on the main straight and was forced to retire soon after for a technical issue.
Aguilera and Casalins banged wheels as they fought for first place, as Vazquez was deep into Turn 3 but held third place.
Marco Aguilera took the chequered as the winner – but later received a drive through, converted in a 25 second penalty, for overtaking under Safety Car. At the same time, second-placed Casalins also was handed a 10 second penalty for contact, which meant that Alba Vazquez took her first outright win in the series.
Aguilera lined up on pole position for the final race of the Navarra weekend, while Erik Zabala – who was supposed to start from second – could not take the start due to a technical issue. From fourth on the grid, Alba Vazquez was passed by Samuel Pineda but she could claim back her position during the first lap, while being overtaken by the TCR entry of Alejandro Geppert, who had stalled on the grid.
Aguilera and Casalins battled again for the CET lead, as Vazquez followed in third place and closed in on the car ahead. On lap 5, Alba was able to attack Marco Aguilera, but he fought back on the following lap. Casalins, meanwhile, had opened a 6 second gap which would prove enough to win Race 3, preceding Aguilera and Vazquez.
The TCR race was frantic, as Daniel Tkachenko pitted at the end of the first lap, rejoined and was eventually disqualified. Volcano Motorsport's teammate Isidro Callejas received a drive through penalty for jumping the start and Alejandro Geppert, last after the start, took victory.
With a race win and a third place in CET, Alba Vazquez moved into third place in the championship standings, with 334 points.
"This is a well deserved victory because all weekend we had lots of pace. "I thank everyone for their work" – said Vazquez after her successful weekend.
"In race 1 I had an unfortunate contact, but today we were really good. I don't have words to describe the efforts of my engineer Edu Foster, and I'm grateful to Gabriel Alonso for the trust. We'll continue to work because we want to make history."
CET Race will contest its season finale on 12-13 November at Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona.