The fifth and penultimate round of the 2021 TCR Eastern Europe season takes place during the upcoming weekend at Slovakiaring. Tomáš Pekař arrives in Slovakia as a championship leader with 149 points. But his main championship rival Michal Makeš is only six points behind him. Except for usual participants, we will see also returnees or rookies at Slovakiaring.
After a one month long break since the round in Grobnik, Croatia, TCR Eastern Europe will be back in action during the upcoming weekend. The fifth and penultimate round at Slovakiaring is on the schedule. It will be second TCR Eastern Europe trip to Slovakiaring in one year. The series raced there already in May within the replacement round for canceled Red Bull Ring.
Pekař leads, Makeš right behind him
It´s Tomáš Pekař who enters the Slovakiaring round in best position. The Carpek Service driver returned to the championship lead after Race 2 in Grobnik by achieving his fourth victory in a season. Pekař has a many fond memories of Slovakiaring from past. The last one from them is Race 2 of this year´s event from May. He took victory there.
Michal Makeš didn´t have happy weekend in Grobnik. Although he defeated Pekař in Race 1 and increased his championship lead, he had unsuccessful Race 2. After a penalty for collision, he was only sixth and lost his championship lead. But he is only six points behind Pekař and he will definitely try to turn the situation in his favor. Makeš also has good memories of this circuit. He achieved there his premiere TCR Eastern Europe victory in May. In addition, low compensation weight (10 kg) should help him achieve a good result. Pekař will start with the same compensation weight.
Will Steibel be a dark horse of the weekend?
Except for Pekař and Makeš, there are six more drivers who have at least mathematical chance to achieve the championship title before the Slovakiaring round starts. They are third Sebastian Steibel (83 points), fourth Carol Wittke (77 points), fifth Milovan Vesnić (68 points), sixth Bartosz Groszek (67 points), seventh Tomasz Rzepecki (56 points) and eighth Lukasz Stolarczyk (40 points).
Especially Steibel will be a man to watch this weekend. In May, he achieved two podiums at Slovakiaring. In addition, he will race with 0 kg of compensation weight this weekend. Carol Wittke and Milovan Vesnić also achieved good results in past at Slovakiaring. Wittke scored his premiere TCR Eastern Europe podium in May there and Vesnić achieved there victory in 2019. But Wittke will have to deal with the compensation weight of 60 kg this weekend and Vesnić won´t race at all there. He decided to do so after what happened during Race 2 in Grobnik.
Steibel won´t be only championship contender who will race with 0 kg of compensation weight. Tomasz Rzepecki will also race without ballast. It will be the same also for Giacomo Ghermandi, for example. In addition, the Italian will deploy new car. Instead of Cupra Leon TCR, he will race with newer Cupra Leon Competición TCR car for the rest of this season.
Returnees and rookies
We won´t see only permanent competitors of this season. We will be also witnesses of returns and debuts. René Martinek and Team Unicorse will make a comeback to TCR Eastern Europe. Martinek will again race with Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR car of his own team RTM Motorsport, as during his three previous TCR Eastern Europe starts. Team Unicorse will return to TCR Eastern Europe after two years. They competed in two rounds of 2019 season with Roland Amrein. This time, Csaba Gáspár will sit behind the wheel of Alfa Romeo Giulietta RF TCR car.
Csaba Gáspár won´t be only TCR Eastern Europe rookie on the grid. Jonas Karklys will also make his TCR Eastern Europe debut. The Lithuanian will race with Hyundai i30 N TCR of his own team NordPass. He competed with this car and this team in ADAC TCR Germany this season.
TCR Eastern Europe programme at Slovakiaring will start on Friday with Free Practice (15.45). The qualifying will take place on Saturday (10.50) and Race 1 on the same day (14.10). The weekend will culminate on Sunday with Race 2 (12.35).
Opening photo: Petr Frýba