Volcano Motorsport’s Mikel Azcona admitted contact with Franco Girolami during the later stages of the opening TCR Europe race of the weekend at Monza “was too much for him”.
Azcona, who ended the race in second place and just a few tenths of a second behind his rival after the pair made contact several times during the final laps of the race, saw his four race winning streak ended although still has a 31 point lead at the top of the Drivers Standings over his rival.
After starting race one in seventh, Azcona produced another trademark drive through the field but this time couldn’t quite get the better of Girolami for the win, despite his best efforts as he went on to explain.
“I tried everything to win, but it was not possible,” admitted Azcona.
“I made a small mistake earlier in the race when I went straight in the second chicane while fighting with Coronel and Borković. I lost some positions and said to myself: relax Mikel and stay calm.
“Then I was chasing Tom and chose the right time and place to pass him. From that moment on I had a podium place, but I thought I could try to improve and finishing second or maybe winning.
“After that Jelmini stopped with a puncture and I saw that Franco was struggling, so I thought it was possible to catch him.”
With the two championship contenders out in front, the pair would go on to make contact a number of times, but Azcona also added that he believes Girolami may have overstepped the line when it came to defending his position.
“During the last lap we touched,” added Azcona.
“I understand his (Girolami’s) position, he wanted to win for the championship, but we had some contact on the straight line that was too much for me.
“Usually this is not a problem, like in the last corner, because this is Touring Car racing. But on the straight it’s dangerous and I think we should respect each other. In any case I have to congratulate him.”
Azcona will line up fourth for race two in Italy, with the second race of the weekend set to get underway at 13:30 CEST (12:30 BST) on Sunday.