Niels Langeveld was relieved to claim a maiden podium in the FIA World Touring Car Cup in Japan, with the Audi driver claiming that he has ‘had the potential all season’ for a top result.
Langeveld is competing in his first season at the top level of touring car racing, and to-date the Dutchman had only claimed three top ten finishes prior to Suzuka.
The Comtoyou Racing driver experienced an upturn in form at the Suzuka East Circuit on Friday, topping the first free practice session in the rain before qualifying in fourth, which became second on the grid after penalties were applied to other competitors.
Langeveld briefly took the lead on the first lap of Saturday’s dry opening race in Suzuka, before ultimately finishing in second after he made a small mistake on the second lap and ran wide to give the lead back to eventual winner Esteban Guerrieri.
The 31-year-old admitted after the race that he was ‘thankful’ to score a first podium, after a trying first season in WTCR to-date.
“I don’t have to forget where I come from this season,” said Langeveld. “I’ve had many disappointments and I’m not so good in the standings, but I’ve had the potential all season.
“I’ve been a little bit unlucky and now to be here on the podium I’m thankful about that.
“I’m really happy to be here and this is the first step to even higher achievements, I hope.
“It was a fantastic race, it was unfortunate about the small mistake and it’s also about track knowledge.
“It was the first time I drove in dry conditions here, so it was not so bad from the start at all. I’m really happy with my second place and I hope more will come.”
Langeveld believes that practicing for the Suzuka event by taking part in video game competitions helped him in his preparations before travelling to Japan.
“If you look to esports simulator racing is getting more real and I practise a lot on it. I do competitions with esports and it also helps with braking points here because when it is dry you suddenly have to rely on all the experience you have in the simulator racing.”