Andreas Bäckman admits that he was ‘surprised’ to have secured a front row start for the opening TCR Europe race of 2019 at the Hungaroring, out-qualifying some of his more experienced Target Competition team-mates.
Bäckman put his Hyundai i30 N in second on the grid for the first race on Sunday, his lap being just 0.019 seconds slower than team-mate and pole-sitter Mat’o Homola.
The Swede admits that he was surprised to have so much pace in Q2, having earlier crashed his car at Turn 3 in the second free practice session, with the impact requiring barrier repairs to take place.
“It was really close to get the car ready for qualifying, so I’m really thankful for all the guys in the team as they did a great job to get the car ready,” said Bäckman to TouringCars.Net.
“In qualifying in Q1 I was actually struggling a bit. I was pushing a bit too hard I think, but still I made it through to Q2 and I’m really pleased with that.
“In Q2 I didn’t really have any expectations and I just tried to do my best. Then on my last lap I got everything together in one lap. Before that I had some mistakes in my laps, but in the end, I got a good lap in which was very close to pole, so I’m really pleased with that.
“Today has really been about my expectations going into this weekend, so tomorrow I will try to do my best and see how we can go.
“We have a great team and a car for the race, so it should be good, but you never know what can happen in the race. It will be very tough as there are many good drivers at the front.
“I’m coming from both TCR Scandinavia and TCR UK, and here it is a much bigger grid, so my expectations were that it would be really tough.
“For me the top ten would have been good, but to be in P2 is really good, so I’m actually very surprised with myself. I know that I have a good team behind me so I am just looking forward to the races. It’s been really good so far.”
Bäckman believes he has made significant progress since he first stepped into a touring car in March last year, highlighting the fact that whilst he only has a year of racing in touring cars his team-mates have been competing for much longer.
“I was not expecting to beat my team-mates, because they have so many years of experience and I am still very new to this,” continued the 23-year-old. “I think everybody in this team, except for Jessica and myself, has done eight to ten years in touring cars, and this is only my second year, so I’m really pleased with that.
“But it also shows the kind of development I have made with myself since last year when I started at Silverstone in the first round of TCR UK. I have made a lot of progress since then and it’s really fun to see that. Hopefully I can build on that even more.
“At the moment I feel very confident with the car and the team, so it should be a good year.”