Stian Paulsen believes he has a lot more time to find in himself, but was feeling positive, after the first TCR Europe practice session at Hockenheim.
The Norwegian finished 12th overall in his new-look CUPRA Leon TCR, 1.1 seconds adrift of pace-setter Santiago Urrutia’s Audi around the 2.8-mile German circuit.
The fact several drivers took new tyres ahead is a moot point, however, with this Paulsen’s first competitive outing of the 2019 season.
“It was quite okay, we are happy so far,” explained Paulsen to TouringCars.net at Hockenheim.
“It’s a lot on me – we had to use new tyres now as it’s my first race of the year, but I don’t know what the other guys were doing. So it’s difficult to say because we don’t know.”
Paulsen missed the opening round in Budapest last month, citing a lack of budget, and has recently just completed work on a new workshop.
With Hockenheim seemingly the first in a number of ‘transitional’ race weekends in 2019 ahead of a full assault in 2020, Paulsen did admit the last month had been difficult, but is focused on making up for lost time.
“The last four weeks have been really, really hard, with not too much sleep and I really feel it, so I’m trying to relax now before the races,” he said.
“We’ve got to just try and take it step-by-step now and get back to the pace we need to be.”
He also re-iterated his aim of running inside the top ten this weekend, but underlined the importance of getting mileage on the car to continue working towards adding to his maiden podium finish in TCR Europe last year.
“Like we said before the weekend, if we are in the top ten in qualifying, it will be fantastic and if we can finish both races in the top ten it will be a brilliant weekend for us, but our main goal is to come through without big damage and lots of laps so we have something to work with for the next one.” commented Paulsen.
Looking ahead to the second practice session in Germany, Paulsen revealed a brake problem had hampered his progress in FP1, and believes the setup changes needed are minimal as he works to extract the most performance from himself on his return to competition.
“Of course we are doing some setup changes but not too much, because like I said, it’s still a lot on me.
“We did have a brake problem [in FP1] – we did something wrong with the pad lines to the brakes yesterday so it was actually turned opposite from the rears, so I was locking the front and the rear and it was absolutely not good at all.
“So we’ve just got to find out that problem now, get as many laps as possible and prepare for the quali tomorrow.”
FP2 is scheduled to get underway at 15:40 BST.