In 2014, the FIA approved Marcello Lotti’s plans for an international Touring Car Championship, and the first race followed in Sepang, Malaysia in March 2015. Swiss ace Stefano Comini joined from the beginning and soon fought his way to the front in the championship standings.
Due to budget problems, there was a period when it looked like Comini wouldn’t be able to finish and finally secure the title. But dedication, hard work and support got Comini his place in the history books: He became the first TCR International Series champion, together with the Italian outfit Target Competition, who took the team title.
Before the start of the 2016 season, Comini again hit the headlines, when he managed to make the step to become a professional racing driver. Defending his title last year became an exciting fight that took until the very last race to be decided. And Comini did it again, having repeatedly succeeded in Macau (China) in November 2016.
But Comini soon experienced a further setback. Money issues were reported at Leopard, with the cars that both himself and team mate Jean-Karl Vernay drove having been sold. “And I am still waiting for money from last year,” Comini admitted.
Looking ahead, all the 27-year-old knows is “that I will be racing in TCR. I just don’t know for which team yet. After my last interview with Germany’s Motorsport aktuell some things have moved forwards. But I didn’t had any negotiations regarding a contract; I don’t have a contract at the moment.“
Nevertheless TCR is Comini’s goal. “I believe in the concept of the series: You are able to build a professional environment including a great car for a reasonable price. The success proves the series right: Everyone either wants to drive in TCR or a TCR car. The series will have a great future“, he predicted.
Comini never stops smiling
Even if this currently means two months without driving, which is hard for Comini, as well as any racing driver, although he enjoys a great support of his personal team. However, uncertainty can hit you every now and then. „My wife is the biggest help then“, explained Comini, “But I also enjoy friends coming around for a beer. Sometimes I am going out. In the end, I am always laughing as it is just who I am.“
Winning the TCR International championship twice in a row didn’t have any influence on the Lugano-born racer. Even if his driving (such as donuts with front-wheel drive or his handbrake manoeuvre in the hairpin of Macau) may be of legend, his personality hasn’t reached “superstar status“ yet.
In the small Canton of Tessin, where Comini is living, skiing and soccer are still the main topics filling the local newspaper. „But they do publish small paragraphs sometimes, even with a small picture“, Comini amusedly revealed. On 02nd March 2017, a special honour is waiting for the TCR champion: The city president of Lugano – Marco Borradori – will welcome Comini in the City Hall where the Swiss will be honoured by the Mayor of Lugano.
Otherwise, Comini’s personal timetable also hasn’t explode as some may think. It did contain some prizing-giving ceremonies but Comini still found time for himself. „In addition I organised a party for 55 people in my office in Lugano, which was really cool“, he told.
Furthermore, Comini is aiming to stay in motorsport „until I am 50 years old. It is my aim to always drive a car and win. In short term, it is my dream to drive at least one race in Rallycross. I am absolutely fascinated by their duels. But also the car is different compared to a touring car and I like that. A race in the V8 Supercars in Australia also excites me.“
One of his more recent projects – much to the delight of his fans – will be merchandising. „I am planning to expand, with clothes like t-shirts for a start“, said Comini. There will be more to follow, as the same applies to what he loves to do, racing. „Normally, the first TCR race is Georgia at the beginning of April“, added Comini. But it might take a little longer until more is revealed.