ETCC - Fulín wins to secure 2017 ETCC crown


ETCC - 2017 Race of Most - Race 

RACE REPORTFIA ETCC Race of Most, rounds 11 and 12 of 12, 6-8 October 2017

*Home victory in Race 2 delivers Czech driver the coveted title
*Norbert Nagy wins Race 1 after penalty for Plamen Kralev
*Swiss rival Schreiber crashes out of contention

Petr Fulín ensured he was crowned the 2017 FIA European Touring Car Cup winner with a comfortable home victory in the second encounter at ETCC Race of Most in the Czech Republic live on Eurosport earlier today (Sunday).

The 40-year-old Křenek Motorsport driver hit the front when title rival Christjohannes Schreiber crashed his Rikli Motorsport Honda Civic while challenging Igor Stefanovski for the lead on lap six of Race 2. As Stefanovski’s SEAT was delayed by the contact, Fulín swept past and made good his escape to secure the ETCC title in emphatic fashion as Autodrom Most hosted the ETCC for the first time.

Bulgarian Plamen Kralev was stripped of his maiden victory in the FIA European Touring Car Cup after stewards decided to hand him a 10-second penalty for causing a collision with Christjohannes Schreiber's Honda Civic. But the provisional victory for the Kraf Racing Audi RS3 LMS only followed drama between title contenders Fulín, Nagy and Stefanovski. Following a delayed start, the Rikli Motorsport Honda Civic of Schreiber took the lead only for the Swiss to slip off the track at Turn 2. That left Nagy, Fulín and Stefanovski to battle at the front of the field. At the start of lap two, Fulín made a move on Nagy for the lead at Turn 1 and made it stick. Now the trio began to build a gap to the rest of the field led by a recovering Schreiber and Kralev. The turning point of the race came on lap seven when Stefanovski in his SEAT León Cup Racer passed Nagy on the outside of Turn 1, then punted hard into Fulín as they negotiated Turn 2. When they had sorted themselves out, Stefanovski now led from Nagy and the SEAT of Fulín. Stefanovski was penalised for his move and was handed a drive-through penalty, which dropped him to eighth and out of title contention with Race 2 to come. After the incident, Kralev closed in on the top three having already got past Schreiber – in a move that was later deemed unnecessary by the race stewards – and found his way around both Nagy and Fulín. With Stefanovski out of the picture, the Audi driver was all clear to claim a first win in the ETCC, which was later handed to Nagy, with Fulín second in the final classification and Schreiber third. The time penalty dropped Kralev down to fourth place. Schreiber's result kept him in mathematical contention for the 2017 ETCC crown ahead of what looked certain to be a thrilling season climax in Race 2. Fulín now had 70 points, three ahead of Nagy, with Schreiber a further three behind.

Igor Stefanovski started from pole position for the reverse-grid race following his drive-through penalty and subsequent eighth place finish in Race 1. But it was the Steibel Motorsport Volkswagen Golf TCR of Czech racer Václav Nimč that led from the start after making a better getaway from the front row. But Stefanovski and Schreiber passed Nimč on lap two and began a battle for the lead. Schreiber started Race 2 six points down on points leader Fulín, so victory was imperative to his hopes of snatching the crown. But when he made his bid for the lead, he ended up with two wheels on the grass and his season ended in the barriers, while Fulín took advantage to sprint into a lead he would never lose. There was disappointment for Hungarian Norbert Nagy, who was Fulín’s closest challenger coming into the race just three points down. But he was never a threat to his rival in the final round of the season. After Schreiber’s crash, the Zengő Motorsport SEAT challenged Stefanovski for second and briefly took the place, only for Nagy to outbrake himself into Turn 1. The lost momentum allowed on-the-road Race 1 victor Kralev to get past. Kralev then passed Stefanovski at the start of lap 10 to finish second behind the new champion, with Nagy down in third. Petr Fulín Jr, the 21-year-old son the title winner, capped a strong ETCC debut with a fine fourth in his SEAT ahead of Stefanovski and Nimč, who rounded out the top six in his Golf. Fábio Mota and Andreas Pfister completed the scorers.

Norbert Nagy (Race 1 winner): 
“It was a very difficult weekend. The first race was not so hard, just the first few corners and after that I just had to protect the car and drive it to the finish. In Race 2 because of Schreiber's bad start I lost many positions. It was the most difficult thing that I had to overtake a lot of cars, while caring about mine as I needed to score a lot of points. At the end of the first race – when I saw Stefanovski's driving and Kralev's driving [standards] – I told myself oh my gush, I have to protect the car and I don't care about the position - I just need to score a lot of points. And that was the case – second in the championship is better than in the previous year and so I'm happy with that. I have to try to be a champion next year.”

Petr Fulín (Race 2 winner): “I enjoyed this weekend, it was great for us and we gave a good show for everybody. I would like to thank my team who did a good job and prepared me a good car. During the first race today I was leading and somebody pushed me and from that time I felt the car was not really working properly. In the second race I enjoyed it too much! I had a bad start and I had to overtake some drivers. Concerning the incident between Stefanovski and Schreiber – it helped me, but after that I just managed my gap to Kralev.”