The TCR International Series’ newest race winner Aku Pellinen has praised the starting capability of his Honda Civic, which helped him to secure his first win at Spa-Francorchamps.
From third on the grid, young Finn Pellinen leapt into the lead of the race before the first corner, passing both of the slow-starting SEATs of Dušan Borković and Pepe Oriola.
In only his fifth TCR race, Pellinen was then able to hold on to claim victory for WestCoast Racing, by 0.376 seconds from Oriola.
“I knew that I am quite strong with the starts, and I’m starting to understand how to start with this car,” said Pellinen to TouringCars.Net. “I had a good start of course – that was our plan, to get a good start, and then do a few qualifying laps and just try to manage with the tyres. Today it paid off.
“In the first laps the car was very good, but in the last two laps it was a case of just trying to stay in the white lines as the tyres were already quite gone, as we had quite an aggressive set-up for tyres.”
Whilst an aggressive set-up paid dividends in the early phase of the race, Pellinen admits that if the race was one lap longer then he may not have been able to hold on to secure the win.
“I think Oriola and Borković’s cars were faster in the end. I think it could have been much more difficult if we did one more lap, but today we did nine laps and that was enough.”
With Pellinen starting from eighth for the reverse-grid race and already having demonstrated the strong starting capabilities of the Honda, he is optimistic heading into Saturday’s second race.
“It’s looking quite good,” added the 22-year-old. “We still have some work to do with the car, it’s not perfect. For example, if the SEAT guys would have been closer to me, it’s would have been difficult to keep them behind on the long straights because they have more top speed in their cars.
“I will try to do my best [in race two], of course. I think we have a little advantage at the start with our car and we will try to use it tomorrow as much as we can. There are some other [fast] guys starting from the first row so it’s going to be difficult tomorrow.”