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Josh Files believes strong practice pace ‘flattering’ due to circumstances

Championship leader Josh Files believes his encouraging pace during the pair of TCR Europe free practice sessions at Spa-Francorchamps is “flattering” due to a lack of track time for most runners.

The double TCR Germany champion finished eighth in opening practice at the iconic Belgian circuit, and was only six thousandths off Jimmy Clairet’s benchmark in the second session before Julien Briché’s shunt ended practice prematurely.

Despite this impressive form whilst other Hyundai runners struggled, Files believes his opposition will improve in qualifying, describing his results as “flattering” because of the stoppages in the second session in particular.

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“We had three or four laps, we executed it well. I thought there would be a red flag, so we made sure we took some fresh tyres, to see what the balance is like ready for qualifying – it’s quite good,” explained Files.

“We’re just missing too much top speed, I’m doing Eau Rouge completely flat now, so I actually can’t go faster without a slipstream.

“It is what it is. Today in free practice two because of the red flag, it’s maybe flattered us a little bit. I think others will go much quicker tomorrow.

“When you look at the Clairet brothers, if they put their ideal [sectors] together, they’re already nearly a second ahead.”

To perform well in qualifying tomorrow [8 June], Files believes he needs to recreate his performance at Hockenheim in terms of the team perfecting the car while he “nails” the lap.

He also noted that “anything can happen,” drawing on Briché’s high-speed accident at Raidillon as an example.

“At the end of the day we have to take what we’ve got,” he said. “You saw today with Julien [Briche], anything can happen in this game.

“I wish him the best to be honest because it did look like a nasty crash so I hope he’s OK. I don’t know yet but I hope he is OK.

“We just have to do the absolute best we can, we have to do a bit like we did in Hockenheim, where I nailed the lap, the team nailed the car and we absolutely couldn’t go any faster.

“We’re going to have to do it again tomorrow because that’s our only chance and just hope that others make mistakes or just don’t get a clean run.”

On Files’ fastest run in the second session, he set the quickest middle sector time, but he says “putting everything together” is the issue over a lap due to the Hyundai’s current straight-line deficit.

“Well the nice thing about sector two is it’s the only twisty bit! And it’s downhill so with the weight it’s probably helping us,” joked Files.

“If you put a fat person on a sledge, they’re going to get to the bottom first!

“But on the straights, it’s an uphill battle. We’re not under any illusions as to how difficult it will be but if we can put everything together, then who knows, anything is possible.”

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