- Zengo Motorsport X CUPRA racer wins first multi-brand electric touring car event
- Hyundai’s Jean-Karl Vernay and CUPRA’s Mattias Ekström complete podium
- PURE ETCR’s maiden weekend finishes with fitting climax
Mikel Azcona made history by becoming PURE ETCR’s first-ever King of the Weekend by triumphing at Race IT at Autodromo Vallelunga with a stunning DHL SuperFinal victory on Sunday afternoon.
In the process, he and Zengo Motorsport X CUPRA became the inaugural event winners for the world’s first all-electric, multi-brand touring car series after a pair of thrilling DHL SuperFinals.
The epic achievement came as a brand-new era of touring car racing was born, with Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles on offer for an electric touring car series for the very first time and three brands all taking deserved Battle victories across the weekend.
Spaniard Azcona had led the Pool A standings in his CUPRA e-Racer overnight, but started DHL SuperFinal A from the tail of the field after suffering a puncture-induced spin in the morning time trial while running an awesome 500kW power (670bhp).
He then produced a stunning drive to win the six-car DHL SuperFinal, perfectly using his 40 seconds of Power-Up - which gives drivers in the final a boost from 300kW to 500kW.
He then benefitted when Hyundai Motorsport N team-mates Augusto Farfus and Tom Chilton - who started on the front row - both stopped in the pits before the finish.
That put Azcona on the maximum possible weekend score of 77 points; a total that could only be matched by CUPRA team-mate Mattias Ekström with the start of DHL SuperFinal B looming.
Ekström also started last, this time after a parc-ferme breach led to the removal of his pole-setting laptime from the session.
The Swede put on the performance of the weekend in an epic DHL SuperFinal B, repeating Azcona’s charge through the field to finish just 0.781s behind Hyundai driver Jean-Karl Vernay, who inherited pole position and led from start to finish.
The highlight of his epic drive was a sensational two-in-one move on John Filippi’s Hyundai and namesake Luca Filippi’s Giulia ETCR, showing off his off-road skills by using every inch of the track and more.
It was a contest that showed the world’s most powerful, and fastest-accelerating, touring cars, and PURE ETCR’s innovative Battle format, at their absolute best as CUPRA, Hyundai and Romeo Ferraris - M1RA cars fought to the bitter end in search of glory.
Vernay’s DHL SuperFinal B win moved him up to second place in the overall event standings with Ekström third; results that put Zengo Motorsport X CUPRA on top of the Manufacturers’ standings.
CUPRA’s Jordi Gené finished second in DHL SuperFinal A - behind Azcona - to complete a CUPRA one-two. He fended off Rodrigo Baptista’s Giulia ETCR by Romeo Ferraris on the last lap to secure the position. Baptista’s team-mate Luca Filippi was third in DHL SuperFinal B.
Post-race, Azcona was awarded the TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver Award for the weekend and also wears the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader jacket as the series leader.
The series continues in three weeks at MotorLand Aragón, Spain.
Mikel Azcona, Zengo Motorsport X CUPRA, said: “We made history, coming to the first weekend of PURE ETCR and winning it. I’m super happy because after free practice I was confident for the Time Trial, but I had really bad luck when I had a puncture at the rear and I had to start the SuperFinal from the rear. It was really hard starting with five fast cars in front of me, but I received good information from the team for how to use the Power-Up and I’m just so happy. The CUPRA has been fast all weekend and the team did a really great job. I’m sad for my team-mate, who had really bad luck with the penalty. This is a great way to start the season.”
Jean-Karl Vernay, Hyundai Motorsport N, said: “Coming from where we were after Round 1, it’s been a very good weekend. Second, first and first in our Battles is a good start. We know where we are compared to our competitors, and it was unfortunate for my team-mates in SuperFinal A because I thought they did a good job. We can be happy about the points situation right now, but personally I’m extra happy with things because Vallelunga is a track I’ve never been fast at, and so I’m happy to have a good weekend here. We go to Aragón and see what we can do there.”
Mattias Ekström, Zengo Motorsport X CUPRA, said: “After the lap in Time Trial, when I was hoping to be on pole for the SuperFinal, being disqualified was disappointing. I did what I could in the race. It was very tough in the SuperFinal because the guys ahead raced very smart; they used their Power-Up well and placed their cars in a smart way, so it wasn’t easy to pass. I had one chance and did a move that worked out, but it lost me a bit too much time to catch up Jean-Karl. I wanted to win the SuperFinal, but it wouldn’t have changed much because the disqualification meant I wouldn’t have won overall. It’s a big compliment to Mikel and Jean-Karl, who did well. This one wasn’t meant to be for me, but overall I’d say CUPRA can be proud.”