Josh Files said that he was struggling to understand how the Hyundais have lost speed compared to Friday’s TCR Europe running, after the championship leader could only qualify in ninth, three tenths slower than his practice pace.
Files could only manage a lap of 1 minute 57.729 seconds in Q2 to put him in ninth for Saturday’s first race, but even if the Target Competition driver had matched his pace from second practice it would only have moved him up one place.
The session saw his closest championship rival, Julien Briché, secure pole position, leaving the Brit bemused about how the fortunes have so dramatically changed for the Hyundai runners.
“Ninth is not ideal, but it is good for the second race,” said Files to TouringCars.Net. “What I can’t quite quantify is how we’ve lost, or have similar pace, to yesterday, and how every other manufacturer seemingly has found not just one second, but nearly one and a half, if not more.”
Files produced his lap by working with team-mate Andreas Bäckman to both receive and provide a tow, so he refuted that the difference in pace was down to slipstreaming alone.
“That [lap] was with the tow as well. It’s hard to quantify. Me and Andreas worked together perfectly in Q2, that was it and that was all we could deliver.
“It’s lovely to be the quickest Hyundais, because at least we’ve shown we’ve done the best we can, but I’m just questioning the swing in the speed.
“You don’t know if it’s different track conditions today, and if we’ve lost it because of track conditions, but even if that is the case there’s a huge swing.”
Looking ahead to race one, Files says that he won’t focus simply on securing points, believing that it could do him more harm than good to drive cautiously.
“Naturally [damage limitation] is what you have in mind, but at the same time the moment you start being cautious and staying out of trouble you end up getting into it.
“We’re here to still fight and that’s what we’ll do in race one. Fight with limited risk, let’s say, and then in tomorrow’s race we’ll have to try and take everything we can.
“Everyone here is relatively professional and I can’t see why they’d all of a sudden start a demolition derby, because it’s the end of the season and no-one wants to have a horrible weekend.
“I just think it will be a great touring car race and we’ll be right in the mix of it.”