Having waited 4-years, Bruno Coelho has successful defended his ISTC World Championship Title with yet another dominant drive in A-Main No.2 in Gubbio, Italy. Topping the time sheets from the first time cars hit the track on Wednesday and right through the event, Coelho again won A2 from Christopher Krapp to become to retain the crown he won in South Africa in 2018. A driver who has faced much allegations regarding his speed advantage on this track, the Portuguese driver took shot at his detractors saying, ‘It is a huge relief not only for the World Title but almost for all “the haters” who are not able to understand the hard work behind this result’. Winning A3 from 9th place starter Marc Rheinard, Christopher Krapp would finally get his much deserved first World Championship podium finish with the Top 3 for the 11th running of the championship being completed by Akio Sobue.
Taking the Title as a result of his 4-second win over Christopher Krapp in A2, the Yokomo driver the only one to present any challenge to the Top Qualifier, Coelho said, ‘It’s a shame people don’t understand that I have talent as a driver. They somehow don’t expect this and think it is not normal but we work very hard for it’. He continued, ‘they say you haven’t made it until they call you a cheater and then you are on the right way’. Wanting to put this negative aspect to bed and enjoy the victory for what it is, he said, ‘Really I have all of the team to thank for this, this was a team effort’. Asked about his A2 drive, he replied, ‘it was very weird at the start again because the tyres were too cold but once they came in I was able to force a gap over Krapp’.
Living up to his form coming into the event, Krapp was both disappointed and equally pleased at making the World’s podium. After A2 the German said, ‘I had a chance on the first lap but at the second corner I messed it up. I was too excited at the first corner when Bruno went wide and then I went wide the next corner and that was my chance gone’. A driver who has missed the World Championship podium, twice finishing 4th, on his A3 win he said,’My car was awesome in the last one. I was in cruise mode like Bruno was in the previous ones’. Summing up his feelings of finally making the podium, he said, ‘I need 1 or 2 days to get all the emotion of the result. It has been a really busy week but I am happy to end up with second place. 2nd is amazing and I am sure I will really appreciate that in the days to come’.
Also making his first ISTC World Championship podium, Sobue was especially happy for his new Axon team. The Japanese driver said, ‘I am happy with the result but I think there could have been more. Bruno was super fast and Krapp and Alex had good pace too so my focus was on the podium’. He continued, ‘this is first time for Axon to come (to WC) so to get a podium together is good for the company. I am very happy for this’.
‘I’m a little bit disappointed’, was Hagberg’s reaction to missing out on the podium despite it being the Nitro Touring Car World Champion’s best ISTC finish. The Swede, who qualified third after two impressive runs in Q1 & 2 despite seeding in the second fastest heat, continued, ‘missing the podium is disappointing but I’m happy I showed good pace and got my best result to-date. I’ll try again next time’. Summing up his A3 performance, the change of a podium very much still on the cards as he took to the grid, he said, ‘I spun out on the 1st lap and had another spin a few laps later so I couldn’t fight for the top spot’. While his Xray improved mid run, ‘Akio was already gone’ and with it the hopes of a podium. Behind Hagberg, multiple Champion Marc Rheinard would return to the World Championship after missing South Africa with 5th place overall in front of A-Main debutant Michal Orlowski who lined up 10th on the grid.
Alexandre Duchet is the inaugural ISTC Spec Touring Car World Champion. Having taken the TQ in Gubbio, the Xray driver didn’t make the ideal start to the finals day as he handed arch-rival Simon Lauter an easy win when he made a mistake on lap 2 of A1. This allowed the Awesomatix of second place qualifier Simon Lauter to take A1. A2 was a better effort from the Frenchman as he stayed at the front and posted the fastest lap of the race to finish 7/10ths in front and set the stage for an expected A3 showdown.
It wasn’t to be a thrilling conclusion to IFMAR’s newest World Championship, Duchet got out of shape on lap 2 and trying to avoid him Lauter spun and got collected ending his chance at the title. With Adam Izsay slipping through, Duchet would rejoin 2nd but with Lauter out, the title was already decided. Izsay’s A3 win meant the Hungarian completed the podium in Italy.
Running for the second time as a ‘World Cup’ race, the Formula title would go to Andreas Stiebler, the Austrian having to leave before the title was actually decided. The delaying of the finals by a day left the Austrian in a very difficult position of having to catch a flight and leave before A3 even if it could decide the title. A1 would see Top Qualifier David Ehrbar take the win from 3rd place qualifier Stiebler. The Schumacher driver would go one better in A2 to take the win.
With a win and a second each, Stiebler’s winning time being the faster, all he could do was hope that in his absence Ehrbar would be denied the win and that’s what happened. Fourth place qualifier Lukas Hoch crossed the line first ahead of Ehrbar meaning Stiebler was Champion. With Stebler en route home Schumacher’s designer Andy got to enjoy filling his place on the top step of the podium with Ehrbar and Luke Lee (3rd) each side of him.
Bruno Coelho has cruised to victory in the opening A-Main of the ISTC World Championship in Gubbio, Italy. The delay in proceedings at the 11th running of the Championship had no effect on the pace shown by the defending Champion in qualifying two days earlier. Taking all 6 qualifiers, from the pole position Coelho was able to pull clear of his rivals, the closest of those being Christopher Krapp. The No.2 starter in turn had a big advantage over Akio Sobue who finished third ahead of Ronald Volker, who came through from 8th on the grid.
Summing up A1, Coelho said, ‘It was a tough start. The first half lap was dramatic with the rear very loose, I think this is what caused a bit the mess in the middle of the pack at the beginning. You needed to be very careful’. With no tyre warmers permitted at the World Championship, the Xray driver continued, ‘Once I felt the car back good again I made a push to build a gap over Krapp’. Looking to the second final, the Portuguese drivers said, ‘I think the track will be better for A2, it should be a better start for everyone’.
‘I was kind of close for the first 1/2 a lap’, was Krapp’s reaction to A1. The Yokomo driver continued, ‘we were all unsure of the traction for the first few laps. Bruno was 3-seconds away and I had a big gap behind me so I’m happy with that. It looks like I just have a lap or 2 to make something happen’. The German added, ‘the track was a little greener than yesterday so I think I need to warm up harder to get heat in the tyres for the first lap’.
Explaining his 3rd place, Sobue said, ‘At the start Alex (Hagberg) was a little loose and I got passed him. I made a push for Christopher but I didn’t have the pace’. The Axon driver continued, ‘Bruno now has big pace again so I will just try to make solid drive and focus on making the podium’.
‘8th to 4th in half a lap, I had some luck on my side’, was 2016 Champion Volker’s reaction to a better than expected A1 result. The Mugen driver continued, ‘I was slowly catching to Akio but he was faster on one section and I was faster on the other sections so I didn’t get the opportunity to overtake him’. Having started 3rd on the grid but lost positions on the opening lap, unfortunately Alexander Hagberg’s race didn’t improve with the Swede taking contact from Jilles Groskamp later in the final leaving the Swede back in 9th.