TCR Europe: Michelle Halder scores points despite unfavourable BOP at Spa
Despite a challenging round marked by unfavourable BOP, Michelle Halder fought for positions and scored points at the third round of TCR Europe at Spa Francorchamps.
The third round of the 2022 TCR Europe championship took place at Spa Francorchamps - one of Europe's most iconic race tracks - for the fifth and sixth races of the continental TCR season. Michelle Halder, the only woman on the grid, was once again in contention for the point-scoring positions, having returned to TCR Europe after a title-winning season in the Spanish championship for her family-run team Halder Motorsport.
In the two-stages qualifying, it was Franco Girolami (Comtoyou Racing) who ultimately set the fastest lap of the session and clinched pole position for Race 1, ahead of Klim Gavrilov (Volcano Motorsport) and Isidro Callejas (Volcano Motorsport). In the reversed grid race on Sunday, Jáchym Galáš secured pole position, while Michelle Halder would start both races from P18 and would have to work through the field in what revealed to be a tough weekend for the German team.
Girolami led the pack into La Source in Race 1, while behind the battle for positions heated up: Josh Files recovered from P6 to P3 with a great dive on the inside and passed Callejas. In the midfield, Pepe Oriola and Mat´o Homola made contact and the former was forced to return to the pits with a damaged car. But, behind him, more drama followed and Martin Ryba collided with one unfortunate Ruben Fernández on the first lap - leaving Fernández stranded in the gravel and causing the intervention of the first Safety Car of the race.
At the restart, Girolami remained on top of the leaderboard, while behind him the action was never ending and position changed throughout the whole field - front runners included: Girolami ran wide on the final lap and Callejas saw his chance materializing in front of him. The Spanish driver passed Girolami, held his position and won the first race of the weekend to become the youngest TCR Europe winner ever. The last podium spot was snatched by Josh Files, who secured his first podium of the season.
From 18th on the grid, Michelle Halder put her elbows out and soon moved into 16th place at the start. After the restart, she further moved up into P15 and, always following her brother and teammate Mike Halder, she was up to P14 at one point.
She then had to defend from the recovering Audi RS3 LMS of Marco Butti and, unfortunately, Michelle just lost out to the Italian, missing out on points.
The Honda Civic Type R FK7 had in fact struggled with an unfavourable BOP all weekend, missing straight line speed on the fast Spa circuit.
In Race 2, Galáš had a good start and led the field ahead of Homola and Tom Coronel into the first corner. Behind them, the toughest battle saw Files and Girolami trading places throughout the race duration.
After another action packed race, positions settled in the last couple of laps - until Giacomo Ghermandi attempted a pass on Viktor Davidovski and the two made contact. While Ghermani made it to the chequered flag, Davidovski wasn't able to reach the finish line. Up ahead, Galáš held on and scored his first ever win in TCR Europe, preceding Mat´o Homola and Tom Coronel.
Michelle Halder had a great start and gained three positions on the opening lap. She would then battle with Davidovski on the second lap, showing some great defensive skills. With another solid race, Halder was less than two seconds behind her brother Mike and came home with a 14th place to score 3 more points for the championship, in an overall challenging weekend.
"It's been a tough weekend - but that's mainly down to the Balance of Performance", she explained. "Drive flat out in Eau Rouge go to the limit and beyond. But on the long straights here at Spa-Francorchamps our car can't keep up with the pace compared to other manufacturers", she continued. "Thanks to my team who've done the best they can and given me a great car the whole weekend."
The next round of TCR Europe will take place from 1st to 3rd July at the iconic Norisring, where Michelle Halder will return behind the wheel of her #53 Halder Motorsport Honda.