Néstor Girolami delighted in securing his maiden win in the FIA World Touring Car Cup, admitting that it had been ‘really hard to adapt’ to racing in the series against experienced competitors.
Girolami led home a Münnich Motorsport 1-3 in the opening race in Budapest, converting his first pole position into a first win in only his fourth race in the series.
Cyan Racing’s Yvan Muller put up a stern challenge at the very start but spent much of the second half of the race defending from Girolami’s team-mate Esteban Guerrieri, allowing Girolami to take a relatively comfortable win.
The Argentine driver also got his first taste of world-level touring car machinery four years ago when he tested a LADA TC1 car at the Hungarian circuit and he admits that the circuit seems to bring him good fortune.
“I’m extremely happy to win my first race in Budapest,” said Girolami. “My first time in a touring car in Europe was here in 2015, so Budapest is something special for me.
“I’d like to congratulate Yvan for second place and my team-mate Esteban Guerrieri – he won in Marrakech and I’ve won here, so it’s an amazing way to start the season.
“The team, ALL-INKL.COM, did a fantastic job and we have a really strong car. We improved quite a lot in the pre-season, and this is paying off quite a lot now. We are proud of that and we have to keep putting the hard work in.
“This championship is so tight, and everybody is playing the same game, so we have to be quick and smart and I think we did a really good job today on this side.”
Girolami admits that he was nervous about the starting potential of the Lynk & Co driven by Muller, but he held off an attack by getting a strong launch himself.
“After qualifying we were thinking quite a lot about the start. In my case, in Marrakech I didn’t really have a good one and this guy [Muller], had a really good moment in the start.
“I probably did my best start ever to keep the position because I knew if I kept the position [at the start] it would probably be 99 or 98 per cent of the race there.
“After the start I realised my position, my first place, could be [held] until the end [and] it was like this.
“It has been really hard to adapt to WTCR. Everything is completely new for me and these guys have more experience – probably ten times in Budapest and this is my third time. Every track is going to be almost new for me.”