Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Nicki Thiim says that things are “going in the right direction”, after the Dane secured pole position on his début in the TCR International Series in Portugal.
Thiim, along with temporary team-mate Kelvin Van der Linde, has been brought in to the Engstler Motorsport squad for the weekend to speed up development of the team’s two Audi TT cars, which were acquired at short notice ahead of the start of the season.
The GT racer topped all of the sessions leading up to qualifying, before the 26-year-old went on to take pole position by a comfortable 0.757 seconds in his first-ever qualifying session in the new championship.
“Me and my team-mate are here to get the performance and we have really showed it over the weekend up to now,” said Thiim after qualifying. “We changed a lot on the car and it seems to be going in the right direction. I am especially happy for the team because you feel they needed to get some more confidence.”
Thiim’s experience is predominantly in sportscar racing, with the Dane having competed mostly at the wheel of Porsche machinery. Indeed it is the first time in eight years he has raced a front-wheel drive car, although he showed no signs of struggling to adapt.
“This is the first time I have driven the TCR Audi TT. It is completely different from the GT cars I am used to, as it is eight years since I have driven a front-wheel drive car so it is a bit of a difference, but it is still a car with four wheels and a steering wheel.
“The track is really nice and I am competing against some of the best in the touring car business, so I am just looking forward to the races tomorrow.”
The Engstler Motorsport Audi TT cars are currently one of the lightest cars on the grid, weighing just 1,230 kg, following adjustments to the Balance of Performance [BoP] ahead of the previous round in Spain. The only cars to be lighter are the Opel Astras at 1,225 kg. The heaviest cars are the Honda Civics, at 1,295 kg, as they run a racing gearbox.