Gabriele Volpato and Rodrigo Almeida have won the first round of the 2020 TCR DSG Europe series, leading an Elite Motorsport Volkswagen 1-2 in a strategic race, taking advantage of an early safety car to get the overlap on their team-mates Alfredo De Matteo and Alessandro Altoè, while the pole-sitting Audi suffered with a drive-through penalty.
Ermanno Dionisio started the #3 Team Italy Audi RS 3 LMS from pole position, but De Matteo drove straight into the lead from alongside him in the #63 Elite Motorsport Volkswagen, with the 26-year-old then holding the 60-year-old Italian behind during the early phase of the race.
Behind Dionisio, there was an intense battle between the #33 NOS Racing Volkswagen of Gabriele Giorgi, and Gabriele Volpato’s #65 Volkswagen, with the two trading paint on the straight at the end of lap five, which saw Volpato drop two spots behind the BF Motorsport Audi of Ronnie Valori and the Volkswagen of ‘Linos’.
Dionisio then slowed out of second place at the start of lap seven, dropping all the way behind Volpato, just before the now second-placed Giorgi violently crashed out of the race at Turn 14, bringing out the only safety car of the race.
Volpato, Dionisio, and Nicola Novaglio’s Volkswagen opted to take an early pit stop during the safety car period, although it was too early for a driver change, but were able to gain time while the field was held back.
The race restarted on lap ten, with De Matteo leading ahead of the Volkswagen of 'Linos', and Piero Necchi’s Tecniengines Audi, and De Matteo again started to build a gap to the cars behind him.
The first wave of pit stops completed around laps 25 and 26, with De Matteo pitting from the lead and handing over to co-driver Alessandro Altoè, with Volpato and Dionisio’s cars now moving up to first and second.
It was just over half distance when Volpato pitted from the lead and handed the lead to co-driver Almeida, while Ermanno Dionisio was in two laps later to hand over his Audi to co-driver Giacomo Barri.
Barri rejoined and very quickly began setting the fastest laps of the race as he tried to close down the gap to Almeida’s #65 Volkswagen, while Altoè was now in the lead of the race again, but was yet serve the car’s second stop.
Unfortunately, the #3 was then soon hit with a drive-through penalty for a pit stop violation, which cost Barri valuable time, and the chance to fight for victory.
With just under 25 minutes to go, Altoè pitted from the lead and gave the Golf GTI back to co-driver De Matteo, who’d drive the car to the finish. The car rejoined 20 seconds behind Almeida’s car, who went on to win the race.
Second place went to De Matteo and Altoè, completing a strong 1-2 result for the Elite Motorsport team, while pole-sitters Dionisio and Barri would have to settle for third.
The BF Motorsport Audi of Ronnie Valori and Paolo Palanti finished fourth, with Piero and Edoardo Necchi’s Tecniengines Audi fifth.
The next round of the series takes place at the Brno circuit in Czechia on September 5-6.