Mehdi Bennani feels it was ‘impossible’ to end year in the top two

Mehdi Bennani feels it would have been ‘impossible’ to end the TCR Europe season in the top two positions in the championship, with the Moroccan instead pleased to have ended the year with a podium.

Bennani was the reigning champion heading into 2021, and having switched to racing a Hyundai Elantra N for Sébastien Loeb Racing, he started the year off strong with a maiden win in Slovakia.

The Moroccan was not on the podium again until the fourth event of the season at Spa-Francorchamps, whilst in the two events preceding the finale in Barcelona he missed out on the top ten entirely.

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That put Bennani out of title contention, and in the final two races of the year he claimed tenth and second after a strong final race.

Despite not being in the title battle, Bennani was pleased to cap off his season with a podium, but insisted that he was more focused on helping compatriot Sami Taoufik to success in racing now.

“I think it’s good, I started the championship with one win and finished with a podium,” said Bennani to TouringCars.Net. “It’s nice to always be fighting and to be on the podium in the championship.

“I’m so happy that Sami is with me and that we are together in the same race, so I’m really happy about the pace and about the positions.

“We don’t have any [team order] messages together, it is only to drive as fast as we can; every time I tell him drive by in an instant.

“He is talented, and he is full of potential so for sure I trust him more than some other guys. Our position was to fight to the limit.”

Bennani says to take the fight to Volcano Motorsport’s Mikel Azcona or PSS Racing’s Franco Giroalmi would have been ‘impossible’ in 2021.

“I finished P5 in the championship. I think if I did everything without any bad luck, contact, crashing or technical issues I would have finished P3.

“To be able to finish in the top two positions was impossible with this car. For me, the Hyundai was not able to fight for the top two positions this year compared to the CUPRA and the BoP they have, and also the talented driver that they have – when you have a fast car and a fast driver it is impossible to do something more than this.

“Honda also looked very impressive even with the weight. With us, when we carry 60 kg we are nowhere. The Honda was impressive even with the 60 kg.”

The 38-year-old was coy on his plans for next year, but did reveal he will test an electric touring car in the coming weeks.

“I’m more focussing for Sami now, because I know that he has a big potential, so really my first thing now is about Sami, and we’ll see later.

“I have some electric tests that I have to make with a brand that I cannot speak about now, and that’s it from my side, but I’m more focussing to be there behind Sami.”

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