Gabriele Tarquini believes prior testing of the Hyundai i30 N TCR in its development phase at the Slovakia Ring contributed to BRC Racing Team’s dominant front-row lockout for the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race tomorrow.
The veteran Italian put in a dramatic late effort of 2:09.312 seconds around the 3.6 mile venue to edge out team-mate Norbert Michelisz by three tenths of a second.
The gap back to fellow Hyundai outfit and championship leaders Yvan Muller Racing, however, proved the real talking point, with Muller himself nearly a second down on Tarquini.
Speaking to TouringCars.net after the session, Tarquini feels the test in Summer 2017 helped the team this time around, although admitted they used Michelin tyre compounds and not the Yokohamas used in WTCR.
“It was a big fight with my team-mate, we were very, very close,” he said.
“I think that the test we made here last year has paid off, because we tested here in the summer for three days in the development of the car and this probably made a big difference in terms of performance”.
“We tested, to be honest, with Michelin last year; Yokohomas are completely different kinds of tyres. I did short and long runs this morning, the car seems to work correctly, so I expect to also be good on race pace, but we will see tomorrow.”
When asked if he and Michelisz would have a conversation to ensure no first corner mishaps, with the sister YMR machine of Thed Bjork consigned to the back of the grid with an engine change penalty, Tarquini was in pragmatic form.
“Yeah, but he is my team-mate and the target is to collect points in both championships.”
The opening race of the weekend gets underway at 11:00 BST tomorrow [14th July].