A troubled weekend for the ladies of TCR Germany
After a second and fourth place for Mike and Michelle Halder in the first race of TCR Germany - and the subsequent disqualification for Mike - team Halder decided to end their series participation with immediate effect, while guest starter Jessica Bäckman had a mixed weekend at Nürburgring.
The second round of the ADAC TCR Germany was a troubled one and not just for the on-track action.
Harald Proczyk of HP Racing International was the driver to beat since his start in the first race. His sprint was, in fact, a little too good: the Austrian was handed a drive through penalty for jumping the start and dropped back to the tail-end of the field. More bad luck at the start hit Nico Gruber, guest driver Jessica Bäckman (Target Competition) and championship contender Antti Buri, racing for Hyundai Team Engstler.
Jessica and Gruber came together in the opening metres - Jessica's Hyundai spun and collided with Buri. The latter rejoined the race after a pit stop, while the race for the Swedish female racer and for Gruber (Hyundai Team Engstler) was over instantly.
The Safety Car was called into action and Proczyk served his drive-through, just as the third guest driver of the weekend together with the Bäckman siblings, WTCR star Norbert Michelisz, took over the lead and pulled away.
Second-placed Mike Halder had no chance to close the gap, but wasn't either troubled by his competitors behind. With no further position changes until the chequered flag, Michelisz took victory ahead of Mike Halder and Andreas Bäckman on the podium. Michelle Halder, fourth at the finish line, was classified in second - with the guest drivers not eligible for points. The first TCR Germany podium at Nürburgring was therefore Mike Halder, Michelle Halder and Dominik Fugel.
Behind, Proczyk showed some good racing action after his penalty and, with some good overtaking moves, worked himself up until P9 at the end.
But the real drama started after the race: Mike Halder was disqualified for disarming the fire extinguisher after the race while he unbuckled his belts. This is a violation of the parc fermé rules and the decision by the stewards was technically right.
The Halders took to their Instagram accounts and explained that this is a very common practice among many drivers, and that it was unpunished for years in order to save the drivers and the car in case of a spontaneous fire extinguisher activation. Profi Car Team Halder thus took the decision to end their TCR Germany particapation with immediate effect, commenting that this was the "final point among many in an endless odyssey of disappointments of recent years."
Race 2 was reduced to 13 cars without the Halder siblings. Jessica Bäckman received a 5 place grid penalty for her accident with Gruber and Buri in race 1 and was dropped back to P7, while the front row was clinched by Gruber and Buri.
Buri took the lead ahead of Gruber and Andreas Bäckman after a suspiciously good start, but Proczyk came back and passed the Swedish driver. Because of a jump start, Bäckman later was handed a drive-through penalty and dropped behind in Proczyk-like fashion.
But that wasn't the end to this chaotic race: Gruber drove too hard over the kerbs, damaged his front suspension and was out of the race. Another jump start penalty came for Buri, who was given a drive-through penalty as well. That meant that Proczyk was in the lead, ahead of Michelisz and Dominik Fugel - and they would cross the finish line in that order.
After an unfortunate race on Saturday, Jessica Bäckman was protagonist of some great racing action as she overtook René Kircher for P6 in the last lap of the race.
With the withdrawal of the Halder siblings, Dominik Fugel inherit the lead of the championship ahead of Proczyk and Jan Seyffert. The next round will take place at Hockenheim, 18th to 20th September, while Swede Jessica Bäckman heads to Le Castellet for the start of her 2020 TCR Europe campaign, her main target for the season.