Comtoyou Racing’s Gilles Magnus feels his race one victory at Spa-Francorchamps is a “turning point” in his 2019 TCR Europe campaign, as he jumped from third to first in the championship standings.
The Belgian racer had secured his maiden series podium in race two of the season opener at the Hungaroring, before converting pole position into a home victory in the first contest at Spa.
Magnus told TouringCars.Net that getting away well at the start was key to his win, an area he has struggled with previously, and feels he “managed the race” well thereafter.
“It wasn’t easy but we managed it well,” said Magnus. “The start was really, really good.
“I was struggling with the starts in the beginning of the season in Budapest and Hockenheim, but between these two races we did some practice starts and I learnt a lot.
“All of a sudden I understand how it works! The first lap I attacked like a crazy guy, like a mad guy, because I knew I had to pull a little gap on the first lap because on the slipstream on this track it’s not easy.
“Unfortunately the safety car came out and all the guys were on my ass again! But from then on after the safety car I managed the race very well and didn’t make any mistakes.”
With race pace a problem during the Hockenheim weekend, Magnus believes changing his approach to be more friendly on the tyres has paid dividends.
“I think I learnt a lot between Hockenheim and now Spa because in Hockenheim I was maybe overdriving it in the race and not managing my tyres well and that’s why the race pace was really shit,” he explained.
“So I tried to adapt for this race to change that and it worked out, P1 so it can’t be better.”
The only real challenge to Magnus’ lead came on lap five when Santiago Urrutia made a late lunge down the inside at La Source, before locking up and running deep into the corner, allowing Magnus back through.
“He tried but first of all it’s not the corner to try because it’s before Raidillon and if you don’t have a good exit then you’re never going to pass, but OK,” he said.
“He tried, he locked up and he messed up his tyres. I was surprised he tried something like that because it doesn’t make sense but anyway, it’s not my problem, he’s a nice guy but this was maybe not his smartest move.
“Anyway, it made it more interesting for the people! Maybe the people in Uruguay liked it! But it was a nice race, and great for the championship.”
By virtue of securing pole position and the opening race win, Magnus has progressed from third to first in the standings, with fellow championship contenders Josh Files and Julien Briché both failing to score so far this weekend.
As such, Magnus believes this weekend is a “turning point” in his title challenge, and is keen to follow up with a strong points haul in tomorrow’s second contest.
“It is a turning point, I came into this weekend with a 23 point gap to P1, I was in P3,” Magnus said.
“Now I’m in the front with a 23 point lead, I took 45 points – the maximum – and the two guys who were in front of me both took zero points so far this weekend.
“Taking advantage of 45 points doesn’t happen a lot, so we need to stay smart and stay cool in the second race and take advantage of this weekend.
“Try to get the maximum points we can and let’s see afterwards.”
The second race of the weekend for TCR Europe is scheduled to get underway at 12:00 CEST tomorrow [9 June].