James Thompson admits that he is doing ‘better than expected’ in the early stages of the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) season, despite his late call-up to race in the new series.
The Brit’s drive at Münnich Motorsport was only announced in late March, but since then Thompson has gone on to secure a brace of top ten finishes in Morocco, and sits just outside the top ten in the championship standings.
He continued his strong pace in early practice at the Hungaroring, where he put his new Honda fourth fastest in first practice and seventh fastest in second practice to take the fight to the pace-setting Hyundai drivers.
“I’m trying not to get too excited,” said Thompson to TouringCars.Net. “I get a bit more confident with each lap, but we’ll see how the day and the temperature goes, as it’s going to get hotter through the day.
“I take each session as it comes at the moment. I’m still very short of mileage and learning the car a little bit, but it’s a good place to start, I’m not going to lie.
“Arriving last minute is a little bit difficult, but so far I’m doing better than I expected, so long may that continue!”
Although the Hyundai i30 N is clearly the form car at the moment, Thompson doesn’t believe that it relates to an issue with the Balance of Performance [BoP], pointing to the calibre of the drivers in the car as to why they are often at the top of the times.
“They’ve done a great job, we can’t take anything away from them,” said the 44-year-old. “Credit where credit is due – there’s always going to be a quicker car, and everyone will try to evolve their cars to beat them.
“The fact that you’ve got four of the most successful drivers in touring car history driving for them also adds to that. If you look at the quality of what they’ve got there, they’ve got the strongest line-up in all of their cars.
“It’s a little bit like the old BTCC days when Vauxhall employed three professional drivers and some of the other teams had one and another guy, and people wondered why the Vauxhalls were so far ahead. If that one guy in the other teams doesn’t have a very good day, the results aren’t there, whereas with these guys you’ve got Norbi [Michelisz], Yvan [Muller], Thed [Björk] and Gabriele [Tarquini].
“I think it’s unfair to say they’ve got an unfair advantage as they’ve done a bloody good job, they’ve employed the right personnel and they’re doing good. It’s up to us to take the challenge to them.”