Norwegian racer Stian Paulsen was left encouraged by his race pace during the opening TCR Europe contest at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, after progressing from 17th to 8th.
Paulsen was keen to finish the race after being forced to miss the season-opening Hungaroring round due to a lack of budget and failing to score points in either race after suffering contact at Hockenheim.
He told TouringCars.Net he enjoyed a “really good” race and felt he could have kept progressing to sixth position if he had been more aggressive.
“The race was good, it was fun that we finished a race this year. Third attempt so. And from P17 to P8 I think it was, it was really good.
“No damage to the car and a lot of data to work with. We were actually really strong in the end.
“I wish I could have been P6, but I was behind Homola and there was only three or four laps remaining and I was playing it a little bit too safe.
“I just really wanted to finish this race, but it was good. Like I said we could have been P6 if I wanted to push because the pace was there.”
Paulsen enjoyed a tight battle with Mat’o Homola’s Hyundai in the closing laps, challenging around the outside into Les Combes twice with the pair making light contact under braking.
“He touched me two times a little bit under braking when I was on the outside and made me go wide,” explained Paulsen.
“But that’s touring cars, next time if it’s me on the inside I will touch him a little bit!
“So that’s how it is.”
Ahead of the second race at the iconic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Paulsen is feeling confident of his pace and is hopeful he can follow the pacesetters through after the reverse-grid start.
He also noted the importance of “staying out of trouble” as he was nearly tangled up in the opening lap incident between Olli Kangas and Teddy Clairet at Les Combes, which brought out the safety car.
“The pace is there. We still have good tyres, new ones, and the fastest guys start P10 from the reverse-grid,” he said.
“That’s not too far in front of me if I make a good start again, they’re not far in front. Maybe I can catch one of them and follow, and we can gain even more positions than we did today.
“Of course again I was really close to having an accident on the first lap, two guys crashed in front of me, I was very close to hitting them.
“So we need to tone it back now, there are so many drivers and everyone is a little bit hot, so we just need to stay out of trouble.”
The second race of the weekend for TCR Europe is set to get underway at 12:00 CEST.