Alexander Hagberg took the win in an exciting opening A-Main at the TITC, the Xray driver withstanding intense pressure from Infinity’s Akio Sobue to cross the line 17/100ths in front. Having had the perfect week leading up to the A1, reigning champion Bruno Coelho’s domination came to an end on the first lap. Starting from the TQ, he would lose his Xray approaching the front straight spinning in front of the pack with Naoto Matsukura unable to avoid him. This let second place qualifier Hagberg go to the front with Sobue in tow and closing. All over the back of the leader, fourth place starter couldn’t find a way by with an attempt at the end of the front straight resulting in contact. With Sobue waiting on Hagberg to retake the lead, this brought Meen Vejrak into the lead battle but after a couple of laps the Yokomo driver dropped off give Sobue breathing room for a second attempt to pass but Hagberg kept his composure to secure the win.
Punching the air with delight on the drivers stand, afterwards Hagberg said, ‘for some reason it felt like no traction. I can’t say it was the tyres or the track but I was sideways everywhere and I was lucky to keep it on the track’. Given the lack of traction reported by most drivers, he said, ‘now I don’t know what to do with the set-up’. On his battle with Sobue, the vocal crowd showing their appreciation throughout the race, the Swede said, ‘It was a good fair battle. He tagged me but then let me back in front. It was a good race’. Summing up his race team-mate Coelho, who would finish 7th, said, ‘I had zero traction as I had concerns about. I don’t know what happened. We had a perfect car all the week and the only thing we changed was the tyres and now it is like this. I have nothing more to say’.
‘There was no space, I couldn’t get by’, was Sobue’s reaction after the race. Posting the fastest lap of the race, the Japanese driver said, ‘My car was not too bad. The low traction suits my car and it was easy to drive’. A driver of few words, he concluded, ‘I go maximum attack in the next one’. Matsukura said his problems started with his grid position. With both himself and his 5th place qualifier team-mate Marc Rheinard starting on the inside of the grid both drivers struggled to get away due to being off the racing line. He said, ‘I couldn’t get full throttle, the wheels just spin. Then I have to be safe not to crash Akio.’ Hanging on to his third position he would then run head into a spinning Coelho dropping him down the field with him eventually recovering to 4th.
Finding himself in the battle for the lead following errors from an number of drivers in front of him, 6th place qualifier Vejrak said the race ended a lot better than it started. The Thai driver said, ‘I had a bad start because another driver crashed me onto the grass’. Working his way up the order and running in third he said, ‘When Alex and Akio crashed I tried to punch it but there was no space. I tried to keep with them but at the end my pace faded and I dropped back’. Asked about his car set-up, he replied, ‘overall it is a little better than before. My lap times are more close now’. Team-mate Naoki Akiyama would complete the Top 5.