Norwegian racer Stian Paulsen says he is “so happy” after he progressed from 12th on the grid through to second in mixed conditions for race one of TCR Europe at the Hungaroring.
Paulsen made significant progress on the first lap, and was running third until the safety car came out after to recover Attila Tassi’s Honda from the gravel, after he had contact with Julien Briché.
When the latter received a post-race time penalty, Paulsen was promoted to second position.
He told TouringCars.Net he thrives in mixed conditions, as many of the drivers ran slick tyres on a damp circuit.
“I love these conditions,” he said. “I always love these conditions – I was really sad when we were at Paul Ricard and we had an engine problem – when it was the same conditions as these.
“I was really down after that – it was the biggest disappointment of my career I think -because I love these conditions so much. And today we just had it again and I was so happy.
“I thought, ‘okay, just survive the first two laps because it’s going to be mayhem’ and it was! And I just pushed from there and we managed P2 so I’m really happy about it.”
When Briché received the drive-through penalty – which was later changed to a post-race time penalty as he didn’t take it – Paulsen was unaware and just wanted to hang on for a podium finish.
“I didn’t know about that,” explains Paulsen. “Because I’m a low budget driver so I don’t have radio so I didn’t know actually, so when I was going into the pit after finishing the race people were pointing me to P2 and I said no I’m P3 and then I found out I got P2!
“But after this, when I found out he had a drive-through, I think it was really shit for him to overtake me, and block me.
“He was faster but I lost time when he tried to overtake and because he had a drive-through I think it was not so nice to do but he probably didn’t know it because he is normally a nice guy – so I guess he didn’t know when he tried to overtake me.”
Despite encouraging pace from the CUPRAs of Paulsen and Mikel Azcona on a drying track, Paulsen believes this was only due to mixed conditions.
“Yeah it’s down to the conditions. If it was completely dry now, or tomorrow, we would not have the greatest speed at this track.
“We’ve seen it before in WTCR and we saw it in the free practice yesterday I had really good front tyres and I was three seconds off the pace.
“If it’s the same conditions tomorrow then it’s perfect – then we go for a podium again – but if not then I hope for a top five but I think it’s going to be really hard.”