Challenging first race for Jessica Bäckman, as Hyundais struggle with top speed
The final TCR Europe round in Monza opened with a difficult day for Hyundai drivers, as Jessica Bäckman recovered some positions to finish 25th.
After a very solid season in the European TCR championship and appearances in the Scandinavian and Germany-based TCR sanctioned series, young Jessica Bäckman approaches the last round of the TCR Europe in Monza, Italy.
The 22-year old Swede had a great start of her weekend at the "Temple of Speed", as she signed the sixth-fastest time in the first practice session and ended FP2 in 12th, after spending most of Friday within the top-10.
Nevertheless, Saturday's track action saw a very different scenario: the Hyundais that were the early pace-setters, suddenly faced a tough day at the fast Italian circuit: it was the Julien Briché and Aurélien Comte due to lock the front row for Peugeot. Only two Hyundais made it to the top-12 and advanced for Q2: Andreas Bäckman and championship leader Josh Files.
The session was briefly red-flagged to recover the stranded car of Guilherme Salas at La Roggia chicane.
"In the qualifying, I was struggling in the beginning with traffic, and then it came the red flag and I had to go to the pits and it was over." - commented Jessica Bäckman.
"We were struggling with the top speed today, all the Hyundais were very slow. It's quite a shame, because yesterday we were all in the top 10, while today we were losing like one second onto the straights."
Bäckman took the start from the 28th grid slot, in a massive 33-cars field.
When the lights went out, JSB Competition driver Julien Briché had a good start and led Comte at the First Chicane. Urrutia followed in third, while around the 11th place, home hero Luca Filippi was tagged from behind and damaged his BRC Racing Hyundai and was forced to stop after just one lap for the damages incurred. At Parabolica, Morbidelli clashed with Engstler, with the German going off. The experienced Morbidelli will later get a drive through penalty for a separate incident with Nelson Panciatici.
Jessica Bäckman had a good getaway and moved up to 25th: with the ongoing battles throughout the field, she raced steadily in positions from P24 to P27.
Championship leader Files was among the few Huyndai drivers to keep up with the Peugeot's pace and, after overtaking Urrutia for third, he tried to chase the leading duo, unsuccessfully.
Briché took home his fourth victory of the season and kept his title chances alive, at least for another day. Files crossed the line in third and will go into the last 2019 race tomorrow with a 33-point advantage over his French competitor.
Jessica Bäckman finished a challenging race in 25th and will thus start tomorrow's race in on the 13th row.
"In the race it was ok in the beginning, but then I started to struggle a lot with my brakes. I couldn't stop the car and I was going off all the times. So, yeah, I was struggling quite a lot." - said Jessica after the first race.
The final 2019 TCR Europe race will go green in Monza on Sunday at 11:35 local time.
Ph credits: Racers-BehindtheHelmet.com