Stian Paulsen was encouraged to be able to show improved speed in the TCR Europe races at Assen, where the Norwegian was closer to fellow CUPRA driver Mikel Azcona throughout the weekend.
Paulsen qualified his car within two tenths of erstwhile championship leader Azcona on Saturday, putting him much closer to the pace than he had been last time out in Budapest.
In the weekend’s two races Paulsen took points finishes, finishing eighth in Saturday’s first race as the best-placed CUPRA driver and following it up with fifth in race two.
He admitted to TouringCars.Net after race two that he had intentionally let Azcona past early in the race, after the Spaniard got a better start and with Paulsen not wishing to compromise the championship chances of a fellow CUPRA driver.
“I’m not super disappointed,” said Paulsen. “I tried to overtake Mikel again on the third lap, because I actually let Mikel past on the first half a lap because I want him to win the championship as he is in a CUPRA, but at the end of the three laps I thought I had much better speed so I tried to pass.
“But then I hit the tyre barrier on the inside of Turn 1 and I broke my steering. After the safety car the guys from behind caught up and I thought I would try to fight for third. But Dušan [Borković] was so much faster.
“I felt that I did a good job as I kept him behind me for many laps, but then he overtook me at the hairpin with all four tyres on the inside – he just cut the inside of the corner, it was for sure a metre with all four tyres, and then he hit me. I thought he would get a penalty for that but he didn’t.
“I think actually I was faster in some places than him. So that was a bit shit.”
Apart from losing out on a potential podium, Paulsen was disappointed to have lost out on the opportunity to learn more about the set-up on his CUPRA car.
“P5 is OK, but what I’m most disappointed with is that I crashed my car at the start of lap four, so actually I don’t know how my car is at the end of the race with the new set-up we tried.
“We didn’t learn anything today, we just destroyed a car on lap four and I don’t know how it would have been at the end if I didn’t damage it, so we didn’t learn anything which was a bit shit.”