Jessica Bäckman recovers from back of the grid to finish P19 in Monza race 2
Swede Jessica Bäckman finished an action-packed last race of the 2019 TCR Europe season with a P19 from 27th on the grid, as Files is crowned champion.
In a sunny Autodromo di Monza, the last race of the 2019 TCR Europe season went underway with championship leader Josh Files taking the start from second, alongside reverse-grid poleman Potty. Target Competition teammate Jessica Bäckman lined up in P27, as a nightmare qualifying for the Hyundai drivers had heavily influenced the young Swede weekend.
When the lights went out, Files jumped ahead of Potty and led the 34-cars field towards the famous Monza first chicane.
In the usual hectic first stages of the race, Jessica's brother Andreas had an off at the second Lesmo and Taoufik went into the barriers at Ascari.
Daniel Lloyd and Gilles Magnus followed in third and fourth place, but the Belgian Audi driver had soon to serve a drive through penalty for a jump start.
Files' championship rival Julien Briché started from ninth after yesterday's victory: the Frenchman immediately brought himself up to sixth and started a desperate chase for the top of the standings.
Jessica Bäckman, who had lamented braking issues after yesterday's race 1, made up five positions by lap 3 and lapped competitively throughout the race.
On the fifth lap she dropped to 25th again, but kept the battles on and made it back into P21 just two laps later.
Nelson Panciatici had an off at Ascari and rejoined, before having to come back into the pits and retire his Hyundai. In the meanwhile, Briché was already up to third thanks to a series of daring overtakings and Lloyd started to come under pressure from the fast Peugeot #24: the attack did eventually come at Prima Variante, as Briché stripped Lloyd of the second place and went on to catch Files.
Jessica Bäckman moved further up the order in the hard-fighting midfield. Ahead, Briché gave it his all but could not get into Files' striking distance, with the Brit waving on most of the long Monza straights in the attempt to break the tow.
An exciting battle emerged for third, with Comte attacking Lloyd at the first chicane and having to cut the corner. He grabbed third later at Variante della Roggia, but received a 10 seconds penalty for taking the shortcut.
After 13 laps of never-ending action, Josh Files crossed the line to take home the race victory and championship title, ahead of Briché and Lloyd.
Clairet and Morbidelli rounded out the top 5, with Comte ultimately finishing seventh.
Jessica Bäckman took the chequered flag in 18th position, after a superb recovery from the back of the field:
"This race I think went a lot better" - commented the 22-year old lady from Sweden.
"We had changed the brakes overnight, so brakes felt a lot better this time and I managed to gain many positions. In the middle of the race I lost 5 places, but then I took them back again. Overall I gained ten positions and I'm happy about that, I'm happy that my speed was better as well."
"I think it was a good end to the weekend, as it's not easy to start from the back of the grid and move up the field."
Bäckman closes her second year in TCR with four podiums to her name, collected in the European, Scandinavian and German series.
She picked up a total of 70 points and finished 19th in the championship standings, among a massive field of 60 drivers that took part in at least one race this season.
Jessica's 2020 plans are already to be confirmed but her focus will remain on TCR sanctioned series.
Ph credits: Racers-BehindtheHelmet.com