James Thompson was pleased to leave Marrakech with two top ten finishes in the inaugural event for the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), with the Münnich Motorsport driver bagging solid points on his return.
Having only been announced as a driver for the Honda Münnich Motorsport squad a few weeks ago, the Brit was expected to be race-rusty on his return to the top level of touring cars.
But Thompson was showing his pace throughout the weekend, qualifying just outside the top ten on Saturday before putting his car eighth on the grid on Sunday.
After a poor start saw Thompson drop down the order in race one, in race two he finished sixth, having started third on the reverse grid, before concluding his weekend with an eighth-place finish – the same position in which he started the race.
“I’m pleased with the pace I’ve shown not just in the race, but all day,” said Thompson after his Saturday efforts. “I started P10 and was confident of scoring points.
“Unfortunately, some people went a bit crazy at the start. Frédéric Vervisch hit me and then kept his foot on the power once the contact was made, which stopped me from being able to get the car straight. I finished P14, but on times, my pace was as good as Esteban and Yann in the race.
“Two weeks ago I wasn’t even planning on racing this year, so to come away from my first weekend in a TCR Honda and have strong top-ten finishes is brilliant. I’ve become more and more comfortable as the weekend has gone on, and that’s been reflected in my pace.
“I could see my way to the front in race two, but I was squeezed into the pit exit by Pepe Oriola and I chose to lift, rather than cause an accident, and that lost me some ground. I’m looking forward to Hungary.”
Team Manager Dominik Greiner praised Thompson for his efforts, given that his last outing prior to the weekend was with the team in Qatar in 2016.
“For a guy who hadn’t raced for 18 months before this weekend, he showed great speed and was unlucky to lose a chance of a podium in race two,” added Greiner.
Thompson leaves Morocco 11th overall in the drivers’ standings.