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Flying Fulín nets ETCC victory double



Petr Fulín and Niklas Mackschin were double winners when the 2016 FIA European Touring Car Cup got underway at Circuit Paul Ricard in France on Sunday.

Fulín, from Czech Republic, grabbed a Super 2000 brace in the Křenek Motorsport TCN2-specification SEAT León he drove for the first time on Friday morning, while German Mackschin stole the show in Super 1600, taking his GMA Autosport Ford Fiesta to a victory brace. Peter Rikli was twice on the podium in his newly-acquired TCN2 Honda Civic, René Münnich finished runner-up in the first race, while Norbert Nagy drove his older-specification SEAT to third.

From second on the rolling start grid, Petr Fulín made his move on poleman René Münnich and pulled away in his TCN2 SEAT León. Honda Civic driver Münnich still took second place on his ETCC debut ahead of Peter Rikli. Norbert Nagy was fourth after slipping back from his early second at the start. ETCC newcomer Kris Richard was sent spinning in the opening exchanges but produced a superb recovery drive to take fifth. The next five cars took the chequered flag within two seconds of each other, after last-lap contact between Mladen Lalušić and Christjohannes Schreiber. The Serbian did hold on to sixth in front of Swiss Schreiber, with Alexandr Artemyey, Fábio Mota and Pierre Humbert close behind. Super 1600 champion Niklas Mackschin took a dominant win in his class as the positions behind were swapped throughout. Andreas Rinke got up into second only to be repassed by Kevin Hilgenhövel, who was later handed a drive-through penalty for abuse of track limits. With Andrii Levtushenko penalised for contact and Ulrike Krafft having an off-track moment, it seemed Rinke would take second after all only for Tomáš Korený to slip by on the last lap.

Petr Fulín made it a double victory as he charged up from eighth on the reverse-race grid. Fulín was into third in his TCN2-specification SEAT León by the end of an eventful first lap. His Křenek team-mate Christjohannes Schreiber had made a good start to take the lead but slid wide at the first corner. When he rejoined, Kris Richard was sent facing the wrong way for the second race in a row – this time suffering terminal damage. Polesitter Alexandr Artemyev held the early lead ahead of Norbert Nagy, in an old-specification SEAT, but on lap four, Fulín snatched first place around the outside of the fast Signes right-hander and went on to win by seven seconds. A good battle for second emerged late in the race as Artemyev defended from Nagy, with Rikli joining them once Schreiber served a drive-through penalty for contact. Rikli fought his way through to second ahead of Nagy and Artemyev, while Mladen Lalušić won a duel with Pierre Humbert over fifth. Behind hill climb champion Igor Stefanovski, Schrieber beat René Münnich by just 0.021s. Münnich had also been penalised after making a false start. Niklas Mackschin won again in Super 1600 ahead of Andrii Levtushenko and Ulrike Krafft.

Petr Fulín (Super 2000 winner, Race 1 and Race 2): “It could have been a dream weekend if I won the qualifying but I am satisfied. It was a very difficult weekend because we only pick up our new cars in Barcelona on Tuesday. We used another tactic in qualifying but I drove a fantastic car in both races. It was not easy to pass René Münnich because he was very clever but then he had some oversteer. Of course the accident [at the first corner in Race 2] helped me and I was able to put on the new tyres at the front.”

Niklas Mackschin (Super 1600 winner, Race 1 and Race 2): “It was really tough out there with some big fights but I was happy to win and for me I can say it was a dream weekend.”