Stian Paulsen says he is “really happy” to have displayed encouraging practice pace during the pair of TCR Europe practice sessions at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
The Norwegian racer admitted there was little overall track time across both practices following a 5-minute reduction in session time from 30 to 25, which made a notable impact with the length of the out-lap around the 4.35-mile circuit.
Despite this, Paulsen feels he is in a positive place with the setup of his CUPRA TCR, and believes his weekend “looks good” if it continues in a similar fashion.
“There wasn’t much driving today, the five minutes they took away this weekend for free practice – 25 minutes instead of 30 – it is quite a lot,” said Paulsen.
“But also Spa is a long track so you lose a lot of time around it. But we’re happy so far, we wanted to do one more stint in second practice but we didn’t manage to because of the red flag.
“We’re happy with P3, it looks good for tomorrow.”
Although Paulsen diluted the importance of his results, admitting he is unsure which of his competitors ran fresh rubber, he was encouraged by the fact he set his own quickest time on the second lap of the new tyres, believing there is more time to be found.
“I also put in my fastest lap on the second lap of the tyres so we have more speed there, but of course it’s only free practice today,” he said.
“We don’t know how many went out on used tyres and how many used new ones.
“But for sure I’m happy with it, it’s my second time driving this year, not the best preparation and we’re really happy with how it’s going.”
After being forced to miss the opening round at the Hungaroring due to budget shortfalls, Paulsen is keen to score silverware at a track he believes suits the CUPRA.
However, he noted the reduced weight of the CUPRA this weekend affects him less because he is “driving overweight” already.
“This weekend the goal is for top five in qualifying, and to finish on the podium in one of the races and get a top ten in the other,” Paulsen said.
“No damage is the main thing for the weekend as well! So I don’t have to repair anything in the next week, I don’t have time for it.
“But the CUPRA should be good this weekend, we don’t have much weight. The only problem is for us that we should take out 30 for this weekend, but I only have 10 to take out, because I’m too heavy myself and the car is too heavy.
“So I cannot go down on the weight that we should have, so I’m driving overweight, but it doesn’t matter. We can’t change it. I’ll drive with what I have.”