Gabriele Tarquini described his victory in the inaugural FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race in Morocco as ‘relaxing’ due to the fact that overtaking is challenging on the Circuit Moulay el Hassan street circuit.
From second on the grid, Tarquini got off to a better start than pole-sitter Thed Björk and led into the first corner, from where the experienced Italian would not be headed.
The Italian had to manage two restarts behind the safety car though, and sustained strong pressure from the Swede late in the race.
“I knew that it was very tough to overtake the car in front, so I did my best at the start,” said Tarquini. “Fortunately, I know this car very well and Thed jumped into the car just a few weeks ago and probably doesn’t know how the car reacts.
“I knew that I probably have more experience with the car so I decided to use new tyres, and just went straight on the green lights and that probably helped me a little bit.”
Tarquini admitted that he was slightly concerned about brake wear in the race, which ended up being over 40 minutes in duration due to the safety car laps and stoppage period.
“It was a great start. I don’t know compared to the others but compared to Thed I was faster and later on it was just managing the pace and the brakes.
“I remember in 2016 I had some problem with the brakes and speaking with the drivers last year everybody was complaining about the brakes. We must consider this car is not as giving on brake cooling like WTCC and we carry more than 150 kilos more.
“It was very tough and fortunately I had nobody in front of me. I knew Thed had a slipstream on me but normally his cooling is not as good as mine. But except for an odd moment in a hairpin it was a relaxing race let’s say.”
Having got into the lead, Tarquini admits that he knew it would be difficult for Björk to mount a serious attempt to pass.
“We are using the same cars so the speed is very similar. Acceleration is very similar, the brakes are the same. It’s difficult to overtake except if you make a mistake so I was concentrating not to make a mistake.
“It was not easy because with the brakes you can make a mistake but fortunately the brakes were good enough to finish the race. But the race was shorter so tomorrow will be more tough.”