After a torrid qualifying session, Esteban Guerrieri and the Münnich Motorsport crew have been left scratching their heads, wondering where they could possibly find some extra pace around the Motorland Aragón circuit.
Heading into the title-deciding weekend of this year’s FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), Guerrieri had been the nearest challenger to points leader Yann Ehrlacher. Mathematically, that remains the case after qualifying, though the pace disparity between the pair suggests that the current 31-point deficit is only set to grow on race day.
As the second part of two back-to-back legs at the Spanish circuit, Honda had been optimistic about their cars’ abilities coming into the weekend. They had struggled similarly at the track two weeks ago, however the team’s fleet of Civic Type Rs have since gone on a 30kg diet.
It was hoped that this would make a big difference to the cars’ suitability to the circuit, but unfortunately, their woes show no sign of improving based on one-lap pace alone.
Appearing rather downbeat, the Argentine explained that the team had been chasing set-up changes throughout the day, but even having made those alterations the car’s potential just simply wasn’t up to the task.
“The day didn’t start vey well, so we decided to do some changes to the braking set-up,” he said. “We knew we would lose the second session but we thought that was the best way to attack it.
“We did it, and then in qualifying I probably didn’t maximise my potential. My lap had a few mistakes in a couple of corners but then the potential that we had was what Néstor [Girolami] showed, and that’s far away from what we expected to be, to be honest.
“So that’s a little bit concerning to be 1.7 [seconds] off from fastest. We’re head-scratching a bit, but now it is what it is, let’s try to fight with the weapons that we have tomorrow.”
On the current trajectory, it looks as though Guerrieri is set to narrowly miss out on the WTCR title for the second year in a row. To make the kind of inroads into Ehrlacher’s points tally that he needs to, Guerrieri will have to charge through the pack from the lower end of the top twenty in each of the three races, all while hoping that the likes of Ehrlacher, Yvan Muller and Jean-Karl Vernay all fail to score big.
Race one is set to get underway at 09:15 CEST (08:15 GMT) tomorrow, and Guerrieri will be starting the race from sixteenth following team-mate Attila Tassi’s grid penalty. Yann Ehrlacher, meanwhile, starts from fifth.