CUPRA’s PURE ETCR series leader Mikel Azcona has admitted that he expected to have a tough day on Sunday, after a puncture in his time trial run meant he had to start from the back for his SuperFinal.
Spaniard Azcona suffered from a puncture on his solo one-shot time trial lap on Sunday morning, which set the grid for the six-car SuperFinal.
Starting from sixth, Azcona faced a tough task to get to the front in the seven-lap sprint around the full Vallelunga Circuit in Italy.
But with misfortune striking the two leading Hyundais, and some determined driving to make up three places, Azcona then found himself in the lead just three laps from the finish.
Victory in his Pool A SuperFinal, combined with his results in the battles on Saturday, meant that Azcona effectively ‘won’ the weekend with the highest points tally of any driver after winning all of his on-track battles with rivals.
“We made history, coming to the first weekend of PURE ETCR and winning it,” said Azcona. “I’m super happy because after free practice I was really confident – we did the fastest lap of the day – so I felt quite confident for the qualifying lap [time trial] with the 500 kW.
“But I had really bad luck when I had a tyre explode at the rear and I had to start the SuperFinal from the rear.
“It was really hard starting with five fast cars in front of me, and really close battles. We were really fast, all the CUPRAs, and I think we did a really great job.
“After the qualifying [time trial] I felt like it was going to be a tough day. Starting from the last position with this high level of drivers and close battles between them, I thought it was going to be a really difficult race, but after some laps I felt I could do it.
“I received good information from the team for how to use the Power-Up and I’m just so happy.
“In the middle of the race I realised ‘OK, now I can push and I can win’. At the same time, I had some luck, because both Hyundais had some problems. This win was an amazing feeling.
“The CUPRA has been fast all weekend and the team did a really great job.”