TCR Europe points leader Josh Files has paid tribute to the competition after a thrilling scrap for eighth position in the final race at Hockenheim.
The Target Competition racer does, however, question whether Engstler passed him for what would eventually become seventh under safety car conditions after Stian Paulsen’s CUPRA got stuck in the gravel at Sachs Kurve.
“It’s just part of the fun, isn’t it?” joked Files to TouringCars.net after the race.
“Everyone was very fair, actually, I have to say. There was no silliness, that makes me really happy.
“I am just a little bit unhappy because I was ahead of Luca [Engstler] at the safety car and he overtook me, in my opinion, and then sort of ruined the race from there because he didn’t have much pace, so we need to look into that.
“For now, I’m really happy – it’s been a good weekend and it’s a track we didn’t expect to have as much speed.”
Files had been fairly neutral on his chances of making progress through the pack from tenth on the grid as per the reverse-grid draw, but in hindsight believes his Hyundai i30 N TCR had the pace to keep up with the lead group.
Despite his frustrations, he also gave credit to Hyundai Motorsport junior Engstler for a good defensive drive.
“I had a very racey car at the start, and the progress was exactly what I expected it to be, to be honest, I didn’t expect to get much further,” he explained.
“So I’m happy with that. As I said, I’m just a bit disappointed I couldn’t be with the lead pack because I felt that’s where I should have been, but Luca drove a really good race, he defended perfectly so fair play to him for that.
“I just question who was ahead at the safety car.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the campaign, Files was in pragmatic mood about his early points lead and expects a harder time of it in future rounds.
“It’s only the second weekend, so anything can happen yet. It’s a nice place to be, but we’ve got our work up against us as I said yesterday,” said Files.
“We are on the limit of what our performance is, because we tried to extract every last bit with all this weight. If the Audis had put their laps together in qualifying they would have been pole and second, and the Peugeots obviously have 90 kilos less weight than us.
“It’s not easy, and it’s not going to get any easier.”
The next event in the 2019 TCR Europe season is at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, over the weekend of 8th-9th June.