Mehdi Bennani was pleased to qualify on the front row of the grid for the TCR Europe season opener at Circuit Paul Ricard, after the Moroccan was away from racing for more than six months.
Former World Touring Car Cup racer Bennani last raced in the WTCR season finale in Malaysia last December before the coronavirus pandemic threw the original 2020 racing schedules into disarray.
Since then the 36-year-old has signed up to compete in TCR Europe with the crack Belgian team Comtoyou Racing, where he is teaming up alongside compatriot Sami Taoufik.
Bennani was delighted to qualify on the front row of the grid for his first TCR Europe race, missing out on pole position by just 0.034 seconds in a tight qualifying session in the South of France.
“P2 is a good start to the season for me,” said Bennani. “I tried to make the best lap, but it was not easy at all because when you make a small mistake here it costs two or three tenths.
“I’m happy, because after six months of not driving, not doing anything at all, it’s good motivation for the future.”
Bennani is wary that his race-rustiness could cause him some issues in the opening race, which is scheduled for Saturday morning at 11:50 local time.
“Qualifying was great because I will start on the front row, but the race is another story. I hope I can have a good rhythm in the race because I haven’t raced for a long time.”