Josh Files is feeling optimistic about his chances of victory in this weekends TCR Europe double-header at Hockenheim after showing good pace on used tyres in first practice.
Files spent the majority of the first free practice session atop the timesheets with a benchmark of 1:48.689 in the Target Competition-run Hyundai i30 N TCR, but dropped to third in the final few minutes as those ahead took on fresher tyres.
Nevertheless, the Brit is hopeful of another strong showing in Baden-Wurttemberg, scene of both his TCR Germany titles in 2016 and 2017.
“The car was quite neutral, if not a bit of understeer, so pace-wise it seems to be up there with the other guys,” he explained to TouringCars.net.
“I was top for most of the session on the old tyres and then some of the guys ahead of me took either fresher or new tyres and pipped me to the post, so that’s all really good and encouraging.
“We just need to work a little bit of the balance for longer runs, but now obviously the focus is qualifying. I’m optimistic.”
Arguably only misfortune hampered Files’ title challenge in 2018, with six non-finishes and just a single victory in the KCMG-run Honda Civic Type R coming at Zandvoort in May.
The signs are there after the Hungaroring season-opener, however, that this season could be an altogether different proposition for the 28-year old.
“Hungary was also difficult in the sense that we had the wishbone failure, which wasn’t ideal, but obviously the conditions played in to what I love,” said Files.
“So that was quite eye-opening and inspiring, in a sense. I’m feeling quite good, I’m feeling confident with the car and the team, so I think from that perspective we can always aim to take good points hauls and push for podiums and for wins.”
Looking ahead to second practice, Files confirmed the focus now switches to preparing effectively for qualifying tomorrow.
“We’re going to try some qualifying setups now and, who knows, we might even take a fresh set of tyres.” he explained.
Despite the strong start to the weekend, Files is still expecting a fight on his hands as he bids for a first win of the new season.
“It’s a happy hunting ground in Hockenheim, normally, because I took two titles here.
“But I know the Hyundai does have a bit of a top speed deficit, and we are running all the weight because of how competitive we were in Hungary.
“I do appreciate it’s not going to be easy, because we have to struggle with all of that, basically, but I think the car will be good. It’s just about whether we can keep the Audis, VWs and Peugeots at bay.”
The second free practice session is scheduled to get underway at 15:40 BST.