‘Amazing’ pace on Friday fills Mikel Azcona with confidence

It has been a busy weekend for CUPRA’s Mikel Azcona. The Spanish star took pole position in the FIA World Touring Car Cup at Autodrom Most on Friday afternoon, before jetting off to Barcelona, where he converted another pole on Saturday into victory in the penultimate race of the TCR Europe Series. 

With that, he became the first ever double TCR Europe champion, but there was little time to celebrate as he had to rush back to the Czech Republic for today’s WTCR races. 

Azcona had suggested to TouringCars.Net that his participation in the WTCR on Sunday would depend on whether he was able to wrap up the European title on Saturday with a race to spare. Thankfully for him, that feat was achieved, meaning that Azcona can now focus fully on proceedings here at Autodrom Most. 

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Speaking after qualifying on Friday, Azcona revelled in the pace of his CUPRA at the Czech circuit, and was full of praise for the track layout from a driver’s perspective.

“It was a really good lap, I have to say,” he said. “I prepared myself very well and the car was working perfectly. I had to go really fast, really on the limit on this new track. It’s very special because you can feel a differing level in different corners. 

“It is very tricky for the driver to analyse, to understand everything what is on the floor. So I’m very happy, I was pushing really on the limit and the lap was great. 

“I have to say thank you to my Zengő Motorsport team because they are doing a great job. We started the year really difficult-ly at the Nürburgring with so many issues, then the second race weekend it was really horrible. 

“At the moment we are in the middle of the season and we are still battling for the title, which is impressive. 

“I’m really happy, it is my first pole position in WTCR. I’m very happy and very proud. I need to use this opportunity on Sunday. I have to say also I’m very comfortable with the car because with 20kg more than the last race weekend we prepared the car perfectly and I feel much better than the last race weekend. It is really good and it makes me really comfortable for going to the Sunday races.”

However, it will hardly be a breeze for Azcona once the lights go out on the starting grid. In qualifying, the top four cars were split by just over a tenth of a second, but the Spaniard believes he’s got the right tools to fend off the charging pack. 

“Yes, of course, it’s going to be tough always because we are in the highest championship level in the WTCR,” Azcona said. “Always it’s difficult: Yann [Ehrlacher], Norbi [Michelisz], Esteban [Guerrieri], they are very good drivers and we are on the same tenths. 

“It’s going to be difficult but starting from the pole is always better. I feel very good starting from the pole position and I think my pace is also really good. I did a long run in free practice and my pace was amazing. I’m looking forward to the Sunday races. I think it’s going to be a good weekend.”

The reversed-grid opening race of the day is set to begin at 14:15 local time (13:15 BST), with local wildcard Petr Fulin on pole. Azcona will be leading the pack from the start in race two, which gets underway later in the afternoon at 17:10 local time (16:10 BST).

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