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Néstor Girolami has concerns about ‘strange’ pace of rivals

Néstor Girolami secured pole position for the reversed-grid second World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race tomorrow, and although he says he’s focused on his own performance, the pace of others hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Heading into the weekend, Girolami stood as the closest challenger to the championship points leader Yann Ehrlacher, albeit 31 points behind already.

However, with Ehrlacher qualifying in fourteenth, fifteenth and fifteenth respectively for all three races at the Slovakiaring, Girolami has a golden opportunity to make a serious dent into that deficit.

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Having gone tenth fastest in phase two of qualifying, the Argentine will start from pole position for the second race of the weekend, thanks to the partially-reversed starting order.

With 25 points on offer for a win, that seemingly sizeable gap to Ehrlacher could well be reduced to a nominal amount by the end of Sunday afternoon.

Although Ehrlacher’s Cyan Racing Lynk & Co team has been struggling for outright pace throughout the weekend – just as they did last year – the Münnich Motorsport Honda crew haven’t had an easy ride either at the Slovakian circuit.

Entering the event with a 50kg compensation weight increase, Girolami’s team were always going to have to play a clever strategy to extract the best results possible.

“I’m so happy with the work we did as a team in qualifying,” said Girolami. “It was a great strategy to have four cars in a slipstream. The result of this was clearly better than working independently.

“It was important to get through to Q2, and once we were there the team gave me the right call to be in the top ten in order to secure pole for race two.

“We are in a great position to score good points, so hopefully we can achieve a good result for the team and close the gap to those ahead of us – especially my main rival [Yann Ehrlacher], who is starting all three races behind us.”

But, although he feels proud of the efforts that he and his own team have put in today, Girolami remains concerned about how the Honda quartet will fare against their competitors during the race.

“I’m a little bit concerned about some of the pace we have seen today,” he said. “It has surprised us and seems quite strange, but the most important thing for us is to focus on our job.”

Race one gets underway tomorrow morning at 08:00 BST (09:00 CEST), with Nathanaël Berthon (Audi) and Nicky Catsburg (Hyundai) set to lead the field from the front row of the grid.

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