Néstor Girolami admitted that he was concerned about the threat from Thed Björk in the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup race at Zolder, where he claimed his fourth victory in the series.
Argentine Girolami started the reverse-grid race from pole position and had to content with the threat of Cyan Racing’s Björk for the majority of the race, after the Swede moved past Jean-Karl Vernay at the start.
In the end Münnich Motorsport’s Girolami was able to hold on and claim bragging rights in the season-opening race, finishing just over a second clear of the Lynk & Co driver.
“It was very tough to keep the start,” said Girolami. “I mean, I knew that Thed was behind me so I was keeping an eye in the mirror.
“But then I had some issue in the last corner with the oil, and I was a little bit worried because he closed the gap and then I made again a little bit of a gap to finish the race.”
Girolami added that he wasn’t concerned about his car’s engine, after team-mates Esteban Guerrieri and Tiago Monteiro both suffered from turbo failures on their Hondas during the race.
“I have fresh air all of the time so this is maybe the reason that I didn’t have any problem. I’m not sure for them; it’s much better when you are first.
“Sometimes when Thed was closing a little bit I think he was struggling with understeer because this is front wheel [drive], so maybe in the pack they have more issues.”
The Argentine dedicated his victory to his wife and baby girl Isabella, whilst also congratulating Münnich Motorsport, who also claimed a podium finish with Attila Tassi in third.
“I would like to congratulate all of the team because they did a fantastic job during the pre-season.
“It’s been a very long [time] until this moment, so I was waiting really long, and I was enjoying the moment that I jumped in the car, from Thursday to now, and to get a victory now is a good present for all the work that the mechanics did.
“I felt so happy about this and also for my little baby; it is my third victory with Isabella, so I dedicate it to her as well as my wife.”