Mikel Azcona goes into Saturday’s TCR Europe track action in Barcelona with one eye on the title, and the Volcano Motorsport CUPRA driver believes he can challenge for pole position, despite missing all of free practice.
Azcona missed both of Friday’s free practice sessions in Catalunya due to clashing commitments in the FIA World Touring Car Cup in the Czech Republic.
There, the Sapniard claimed a sensation pole position before hopping on a flight to Barcelona for Saturday’s TCR Europe qualifying and race one.
But despite missing the opportunity to hone the setup of his CUPRA around the Spanish circuit, the 25-year-old is confident about challenging for pole and claiming his second European title.
“We go into the qualifying with no free practice, and it can be a handicap, but I am really happy because I know this track at Barcelona,” said Azcona to TouringCars.Net. “I have been here for a lot of years, so I think it’s not a problem.
“I have to chat with my engineer and with the team a little bit about the data but I don’t think it’s going to be a problem to aim for pole position even with 40 kg of [compensation weight] ballast.”
Although Azcona has plentiful experience of the Barcelona circuit, he has never raced the CUPRA Leon Competición at the circuit and as such is relying on data and setup information provided by his team.
“It is the first time, but I drove a lot with the previous car, so it’s not a problem.”
Having secured pole position in WTCR qualifying on Friday, Azcona admits that he is using the hectic weekend schedule as an additional motivation.
“It’s my first [multiple race weekend] and it’s going to be very busy. Yesterday I arrived very late at 02:00 in the night at the hotel. I slept for like five and a half to six hours, so it’s not perfect, but we can manage it.
“Of course, because we are battling for the European championship, it means at the moment we are the fastest driver in Europe. For me it makes me really, really happy.
“Also, with the experience I am having in every championship, I am improving myself a lot and it makes me a really good driver.”
With a points margin of effectively 60 points over nearest rival Franco Girolami, Azcona is already aware that he doesn’t need to battle with his main rival as aggressively as in previous rounds.
“The last weekends I saw him [Girolami] he was very aggressive. Now, I have to think about the title. I don’t need to enter into these kinds of battles – these aggressive battles – because for me it is not helping.
“All the drivers, we know how to do it, and in the future if there is another situation, I will go for it.
“If I finish P1 in qualifying then I need a P7 in the first race to win the title, even if I don’t race in the Sunday race, that’s all.”