Daniel Lloyd claimed his maiden TCR International Series podium over the weekend with a spirited performance in the #17 Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing SEAT Leon on the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben in Germany (July 8/9).
A superb drive during Saturday’s free practice and qualifying sessions netted the Yorkshireman his first second-row start since entering the TCR series, with the 25-year-old taking P3 for race 1 – just behind former F1 driver Gianni Morbidello.
“The car felt really good in qualifying;” commented Lloyd. “We’re three rounds in now and everything is starting to come together. It was my first time in the top-3 since I joined the TCR, so I was really pleased, although as a driver, you always aspire to more.
“Everything came out nicely in the sessions, despite all the dirt on the track;” he added. “I just focused on having a clear gap in front and behind me, and it paid off for us with a second row start for the opening race.”
Sprinting off the line in race 1, Lloyd moved past Van Lagen’s Golf to steal into second place at the first turn. Setting his sights on the race leader, he built up a comfortable gap behind him as he chased down former F1 racer Morbidelli before the safety car was deployed at the mid-way point halting the #17 Leon’s charge. Lloyd continued his faultless drive following the restart, eventually bringing the SEAT across the line in P2 to claim his maiden TCR podium, 1.262 seconds ahead of 2012 WTCC Champion Rob Huff.
“I was over the moon about race one;” enthused Lloyd. “I had a great start off the line and managed to get into P2 by the first corner. Morbidelli was incredibly quick and it was difficult to keep up, but I managed to stay with him. It was nice to be able to show my pace and I am really happy with second place and my first podium.”
Race two was a chaotic affair with catastrophic results for Lloyd’s Lukoil Craft-Bamboo team-mates. A multi-car pile-up involving eight cars on the opening lap resulted in a red flag with both Nash and Oriola unable to race again. Starting from P8 following the reverse grid draw, Lloyd had managed to make his way into P3 with less than a lap completed before the accident.
With competitors returning to their original grid positions for the restart, Lloyd held onto 3rd but came under immediate pressure from the Morbidelli’s fast-charging Golf. Despite putting up a valiant defence, Lloyd was eventually passed and dropped into P4 – where he ended the race, collecting a further 12 points for the squad’s championship challenge.
“We made a few changes for race two but I didn’t have the same pace and it was a bit of a struggle;” explained Lloyd. “We finished fourth and I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get another podium. I am grateful though that I didn’t get caught up in the mess at the start, which was a real shame for James and Pepe.
“It was quite a good weekend for me, I am happy with the pace, as I am getting closer to the top guys” the Lukoil racer continued. “Gianni, though, was really unreachable in Race 1. I have to say a big thank you to the whole Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing team for giving me a great car this weekend.”
Following his most successful weekend to date since joining the TCR International Series grid, 25-year-old Lloyd’s efforts helped to close the gap to first in the teams’ standings with the Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing team now needing only 33 points to claim the top spot when the series reconvenes at the Chang International Circuit, Thailand in September.