Gabriele Tarquini admits that he is ‘really upset’ by the latest TCR Balance of Performance [BoP] measures, which have seen the Hyundai i30 N handed reduced power and a higher ride height than its rivals.
The defending FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) champion will start the new season in a car which has the same ride height and engine power parameters as at the end of 2018, but with an additional 10 kg of BoP weight.
The i30 N is the only TCR model running with a 90 mm ride height, which is at least 20 mm higher than its WTCR rivals with the exception of the new Lynk & Co 03, which runs at 10 mm less than the Hyundai.
Tarquini scored three of his five wins in 2018 in the first six races, whilst he only picked up two podium finishes in the final 13 races.
“I’m very happy about my car; the situation is BoP,” said Tarquini. “We are really upset about the BoP because we were thinking that in the last part of last season we were quite penalised, especially because we collected a lot of points in the beginning of the season.
“They slowed us down a lot during last season and in the end the car wasn’t competitive. For this reason, we were thinking to start with a new base this year. For me it’s not a good basis to start on.”
Tarquini ended the first day of testing in Barcelona as the best of the Hyundai drivers, but in 13th position and over two seconds off the pace. The 57-year-old says that the main issue faced by the team is the lack of straight-line speed.
The fastest lap time on Thursday was a tenth slower than in 2018, and Tarquini’s best lap was eight tenths slower than the previous season.
“The top speed [is the main problem]. The car is very slow on the straight and it was a very big problem last year, because they slowed us down in terms of power and weight, and the ride height is also a small difference from the beginning of the season.
“But the main reason is the top speed. If you see the top speed yesterday on the straight – they can collect data from the car – we were flat-out with the right boost and we were very far away from the top pace in terms of the top speed; I am not speaking about the lap time.
“If a car is more than 11-12 kph faster in Barcelona, then it’s a different category. The car has the same suspension, tyres, engine [as last year] – if a car is 12 kph faster on the straight, how can you fight with that?
“Last year I was racing against Audi, CUPRA and all these manufacturers, and I know it will be very tough to fight with a car which is faster on the straight. I am not speaking about performance, because lap time performance is one thing.
“We know the characteristic of the Hyundai is very good in braking, cornering and the chassis works very good. But if you fight in a race with somebody who is much faster than you and he is in front it is impossible to overtake, because in any straight he will have 30 m advantage so you cannot fight.
“If you are not as good as the others on the straight then you cannot fight.”