Fast pace and a perfect strategy call by the Elite Motorsport team, earning its name, delivered a 1-2 finish for the first round of the TCR DSG Europe endurance series, with the victory going to 16-year-old karting graduate Rodrigo Almeida, and 24-year-old Gabriele Volpato, who only got the call to race on Thursday.
The duo drove the #65 Volkswagen Golf GTI to overall victory in the first round of the 2020 season at Misano, with Volpato starting the race and ducking into the pits behind an early safety car period, which allowed them to gain time to the rest of the field.
Volpato then drove the second stint, before handing over to Almeida, a karting and Formula 4 driver who was getting his first taste of touring car racing.
“It feels very good to have won my first race,” said Almeida. “I have a very good co-driver. He explained to me everything about the car, and we had a good strategy which helped us to win the race.”
Having previously only driven in karting and in the Formula 4 UAE championship previously, it was a new experience for the Mozambican, coming into a 2.0-litre turbocharged touring car.
“It’s very different formula, but I enjoyed it a lot, it’s a lot more fun,” he said. “A two-hour race was hard though, it’s quite hot, and even more so inside the car.”
His co-driver Gabriele Volpato was a last-minute stand in, and although he’d raced a TCR car before, it was the sister Audi RS 3, and the Elite Motorsport team was also new to him.
“I’m very happy as first of all, it was a surprise to even be here,” he said. “It wasn’t until Thursday until it was confirmed I’d do the race. This is my first race with Elite Motorsport, and my first race with the Golf. The team did a really great job and we had a great strategy.
“We were able to take a big advantage behind the safety car, while our other competitors waited a lap so lost over a minute, so it worked out perfectly for us.”
The two now lead the championship standings over team-mates Alfredo De Matteo and Alessandro Altoè by five points, heading to next month’s race at Brno.