Honda’s Néstor Girolami admitted to being ‘surprised’ by the pace of the new Hyundai Elantra N, after he lost out on the race two win in the FIA World Touring Car Cup at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Girolami had qualified his Honda Civic on pole, but the Argentine lost out at the very start of race two to Engstler Hyundai duo Jean-Karl Vernay and Luca Engstler.
Despite holding position in third, Girolami quickly dropped away from the leading duo, unable to mount a challenge to reclaim the lead and ultimately finish over 12 seconds behind the two Hyundai drivers.
Admitting that he was frustrated to not be able to add a win at the illustrious Nordschleife to his career victories, Girolami believes that the team needs to learn lessons from the start of the race.
“Obviously it’s not a good feeling,” said Girolami. “Starting from pole you want to defend pole position but unfortunately we did not have a good start, even in race one.
“I don’t know, we have to look, because we did the same procedure as always but the engine [almost] stalled.
“I’m happy for the victory for Tiago [Monteiro, in race one], congratulations to the guys, Jean-Karl and Luca, they did a very good start.
“I was very aggressive defending my position at the start, but I left him room to be fair. I felt it was aggressive but fair.
“And then when I was behind them, I was really surprised about the pace because they were even faster than me yesterday in qualifying, so they found pace for today and I couldn’t follow them.
“To be honest I was forcing my front tyres a lot during the first lap to try to follow them, but it didn’t work.
“Then on the second and third lap I didn’t want to destroy my front tyres so I tried to finish the race in that position.”
The Münnich Motorsport driver leaves Germany joint second in the drivers’ standings, six points behind series leader Vernay.
“It was good because we scored a lot of points. With qualifying we had ten points there and now finishing ninth and third is a good position to start our season.”