Nicky Catsburg was left licking his wounds after the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup race in Slovakia, after the pole-sitter made a mistake at the first corner and ultimately finished the race in seventh.
Catsburg had started from pole, after securing two outright poles in Friday’s qualifying sessions, but the Dutchman went wide at Turn 1, as the fast-starting Alfa Romeo of Ma Qing Hua snuck into the lead from the second row of the grid.
That put the Hyundai driver in the pack and he was hit several times on the first lap, causing some damage to the front of his i30 N TCR.
The BRC Racing driver then ran in sixth for several laps, until allowing his faster Hyundai team-mate Augusto Farfus through into the position.
Although Catsburg then gained a position when Daniel Haglöf fell back, he had to cede to reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini towards the end of the race to finish in seventh.
“I made a mistake in Turn 1 which made put me in traffic and, unfortunately, when you are in traffic you are going to be hit and hit hard,” explained Catsburg. “I was hit extremely hard in Turn 4 and my car was done.
“It was just one big survival. I had to let my team-mates through, after first trying to keep them behind for a bit, but no chance. Then it was just surviving.
“I had a very nice last couple of laps with [Tom] Coronel but obviously he was a bit slower because of my issues but he was not smashing me off like everybody else.”
Catsburg will start from tenth for the reverse-grid second race, before once again assuming pole position for the final race of the weekend.
“I hope the next races are a little more clean but I shouldn’t have made a mistake. I was a little bit too quick into the first corner.
“I had a poor start compared to the Alfa and I wanted to stay in the lead and then the track was a little damp, a tricky situation but my race was done because of the big hit in T3 and T4.
“I had some splitter damage and the bodywork was in between my tyre and the car so I couldn’t turn to the right as much as I could to the left.
“Actually, I was surprised I managed to finish where I did. It’s not been my most lucky season.”