TCR Europe points leader Josh Files is taking nothing for granted despite needing just an eight-point swing to secure the title this weekend at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The Target Competition racer sits 78 points clear of fellow Hyundai i30 N TCR racer Luca Englster (M1RA) heading into the double-header in Spain; a margin of over 85 markers heading to the season finale in Monza will be enough to secure Files the crown.
Speaking to TouringCars.net at the 2.89-mile Catalan circuit, Files underlined the threat posed by Julien Briche’s Peugeot 308 – third in the points heading into the weekend – and stressed the fight was not just versus Engstler.
“People keep saying it’s an eight-point swing, but you’ve got some very fast Peugeots, Briche’s not that far behind Luca [Engstler] and they’ve got a very preferential compensation weight this weekend, so there’s nothing to say they’re not going to come to the fore, which they did already in FP1,” explained the Brit.
Files’ strategy is to keep focusing on the team’s primary goal of winning races, suggesting that overthinking the title fight can often become the first step in losing it.
“We’re here to win races, we want to get pole and win the first race. It’s always going to be an uphill struggle, but that’s why we’re here. And then, I’ve always said, the only race you can lose the title is the one where you start thinking about it.” he added.
Reflecting on the work done over practice, Files is confident the Hyundai is in reasonable shape versus the competition, but admits the forecasted wet weather for tomorrow poses an unknown.
“We’ve got a reasonable balance, there’s not too much to take out of the session, because many people didn’t go for new tyres given the potentially rainy conditions tomorrow,” explained Files.
“So in race spec, we look similar to most other brands, if not a little bit behind, I expect that with the extra weight we’re carrying. Overall, the balance was quite good, but it’s hard to tell, really.”
“It’s [the rain] massively a step into the unknown because I never driven the Hyundai in the rain – ever. And I’ve never driven on this Yokohama wet tyre in the rain.”
Files is no stranger to lifting TCR titles, with two successes in Germany and one out in the Middle East, but stressed that winning the TCR Europe title – arguably the most significant victory of his career to date – would only spur him on to the next challenge.
He also paid tribute to the strength in depth of the competition, stating that even to be in the front-running pack was a tremendous achievement for himself, the team and Hyundai.
“You’ve seen the quality of competition this year, you’ve got thirty cars at every round of exceptional experience and exceptional talent, so to be even towards the front of that is a huge achievement, not only for me but also for Target and Hyundai.
“It would mean a lot [to win] – of course it would – but it won’t change my perception and feeling about how I go about my business. I obviously want to improve, but I’m not suddenly going to sit still and go ‘you’re now another champion – job done!’.
“Because that’s not how it works. If you’re standing still in motorsport, you’re going backwards at a hundred miles an hour.”
The weekend continues in Barcelona with qualifying, scheduled for 11:14 CEST on Saturday [21st September].