As drivers headed to the Spanish mountains, it was a brand new street circuit situated on the outskirts of Barcelona which would provide the ultimate test as they fought for the podium spots at the third round of the 2018 Federal Tyres King of Touge series.
The Federal Tyres King of Touge series is known for pushing drivers to their limits, and this brand-new layout was certainly no exception. With solid rock walls and metal barriers to contend with, the streets of Bellvei were harsh but provided what was undoubtedly one of the most exciting events of the year.
After a day of practice on Saturday, the cars were bearing scars as the drivers once again perfected the extremely technical uphill layout.
After an extremely rare accident at the previous round in Chapelle du Bard, luck wasn’t on Norbert Kovacik’s side once again in his return. During the final practice session, the Spanish mountain roads proved that any slight mistake here can prove fatal, leaving his BMW M6 irreparable in time for qualification.
As the judges took their places ahead of qualification, drivers threw down their best laps possible, running the walls and pouring huge smoke clouds as the eager Spanish crowd cheered on their heroes.
The Spanish support seemingly worked as the local drivers went on to secure the top three positions in qualifying. A well-deserved top spot went to Jonathan Hernandez after two impressive 89-point laps.
Second place went to Joan Caballer, with a stunning first lap also securing 89 points.
Juan Antonio Perez also impressed as he fell just one point short of the top two to secure third.
With the international visitors keen to make their mark after the qualification session, the Top 32 battles provided the ultimate opportunity to do so. As the drivers lined up in preparation, it was time to throw down their best laps whilst maintaining speed, line and proximity against their opponent.
As French series leader Benjamin Boulbes breezed past local driver Alex Ruiz in the Top 32, he was keen to also leave Alex Benito behind in the Top 16. After an initial 6-4 advantage to Benito, Boulbes gave his all but couldn’t quite match the Spaniard’s hard driving as he suffered a surprising early exit.
Two local drivers, Joan Caballer and Oscar Ruiz Trave, faced each other in the Top 16. After an equal 6-4, 4-6 scoreline they would have to meet again for a one-more-time battle. This time, a mistake from Oscar Ruiz Trave in his twin-turbocharged Dodge Viper-powered Subaru allowed Caballer to progress.
Meanwhile, an unfortunate double crash for Cristian Estal and Arnau Gonzalez in their Top 32 battle saw neither driver progress, handing Frenchman Sebastien Peyre the opportunity to advance to the Top 8.
After seeing off Vitalii Souskanov in the Top 16, Rodrigo Gallo was no match for an in-form Jonathan Hernandez as he sealed his spot in the semi-finals.
He’d shown impressive driving throughout the weekend, but Jaime Fourel’s run ended against Alex Benito after a slight advantage following a one-more-time battle as he too advanced to the semi-finals.
In his first battle of the day in the Top 8, Sebastien Peyre came back from a 9-1 disadvantage to steal a 10-0 win against Joan Caballer to be the only remaining international visitor in the semi-finals, as he faced Juan Antonio Perez who had already defeated Sebastien Fardos.
As close friends Hernandez and Benito went head-to-head, Benito pushed too hard which gave Hernandez a 10-0 advantage. After trying to claw back the points, the 6-4 advantage wasn’t enough as Hernandez sealed his spot in the final.
As Juan Antonio Perez and Sebastien Peyre fought for the remaining final position, a 6-4, 5-5 advantage in the Spaniard’s favour meant that it would be an all-Spanish final!
As Chapelle du Bard winner Sebastien Peyre pushed the E36 to its limits, it wasn’t quite enough to secure a podium spot as a 7-3, 4-6 advantage was ruled in Benito’s favour after sticking to his door throughout the circuit, ensuring the home drivers were guaranteed the podium spots!
It was the battle the fans had been anxiously waiting for, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. After throwing down a stunning chase run, clinging to Hernandez door throughout the technical circuit, Juan Antonio Perez made no mistake on his lead run as he clinched the victory!
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Official event video
It has been an insane weekend here in Spain and we now prepare for a break in the calendar before we return to the awesome high-speed circuit of Oschersleben, Germany for Round 5 of the Federal Tyre King of Europe ProSeries!