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Reason for optimism as Zengő Motorsports make CUPRA progress

Zengő Motorsport has endured a tough start to its full-time return to the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) this year, although Mikel Azcona’s sixth place in qualifying suggests that progress is being made.

Last time out at Zolder, the team found itself at the bottom of the qualifying charts, having struggled to get to grips with a fleet of brand new CUPRAs.

Back then, there wasn’t even time to apply a livery to the cars, but Zoltán Zengő’s crew now seem to be getting a tune out of the latest TCR offering from Barcelona.

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There are still some evident teething issues with the CUPRAs though, the most notable of which being the car’s persistent inability to meet the Nürburgring’s noise limits, leading to their drivers being black-flagged on multiple occasions throughout Thursday’s track sessions.

This will be something that the team has to correct if they want to take anything away from this set of races, but assuming that the issue gets resolved, lead driver Mikel Azcona has seen enough so far to be optimistic about his chances of a good result.

“[I had a] very good feeling on the Nordschleife. [We finished] P6 and the car feels very good,” he said. “I feel that in qualifying the car was [set-up] perfectly.

“It was a fantastic qualifying lap. We didn’t have the chance to go for a second flying lap because of the sound of the exhaust, but anyway, with only one flying lap my feelings [about the car] are the best since the championship started.

“The car was, to be honest, fantastic on the Nürburgring Nordschleife and I’m looking forward to the races because I felt really really good [behind the wheel].”

But while one Zengő Motorsport driver feels as though he has the chance to battle at the front, another is taking a more cautious approach to the weekend.

Gábor Kismarty-Lechner got his first taste of the infamous German circuit on Thursday, ending the day’s running with an even greater respect for the 25 kilometre-long track.

However, with his fastest lap time from qualifying registering almost two minutes slower than that of the pole-sitter, the Hungarian is under no illusions about that challenges that racing here will pose.

“It’s my first time at the Nordschleife and I knew that it would be difficult, but now I know that it’s much more difficult than I thought,” Kismarty-Lechner explained. “The one thing worse than the Nordschleife is the Nordschleife in dark conditions so it was very difficult for me.

“I didn’t want to take any risk, and with P14 at the end and no damage on the car, I can be happy with the result. That was the main goal for today and then we will see tomorrow. I know from a speed point of view we are not the fastest, but let’s see what we can do.”

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