In a weekend which saw him claim the TCR Europe Series title and elevate himself up to third in the FIA World Touring Car Cup standings, there will be plenty of celebrating to do for Mikel Azcona.
After flying back from European championship duties in Barcelona, Azcona finished eighth in the opening WTCR race today at Autodrom Most, before following that up with second position in race two. However, having started the latter from pole, there is still a tinge of regret in the Spaniard’s head, albeit overshadowed by an otherwise positive outlook on everything he has achieved this weekend.
“I’m a little bit disappointed with the mistake I did by myself, but that is one thing I will learn for the future,” he began. “You have to take always the good things [from bad situations].
“I’m really happy with the weekend. Good points for the championship, I mean the second race I really enjoyed, battling with Norbi [Michelisz] and trying to catch him. I was pushing since the beginning.
“Here [at Autodrom Most] the overtake is really difficult but I was pushing really, really hard and felt super confident with the car. The car allows me to go on the limit at every corner, so I am very proud of my team, how we are managing to improve the car even with more kilograms [of compensation ballast]. So yeah, I’m really happy and I really enjoyed the last race.”
In the end, it was a lack of rear tyre temperature which prevented Azcona from ending Sunday with a WTCR race win. At turn one, he lost the rear end of his CUPRA, and although he did well to correct the slide it was all the invitation that Norbert Michelisz needed to snatch the lead away from him.
“The rear tyres were not in perfect condition, so at the first right-hander I lost the rear and lost the position,” he said. “The temperature here in Most is not so hot, it’s very cold so for this tyre I think we need to work really a lot to make the temperature, especially on the rear tyres.
“After the red flag it was not a big problem. The first lap you always need to take carefully, but after that I was looking to Norbi [and] he was pushing very fast. I tried to catch him because I felt so comfortable [with the car], I decided to push really on the limit and yeah I really enjoyed that race. I’m very proud of what we did this weekend.
“It was a really tough weekend because I was going to Barcelona, then Barcelona to Prague, but in the end it was perfect because we won the TCR Europe and now we are P3 in the [WTCR] championship, which is amazing. Especially when you consider how we started the season.
“Now I feel in my best moment of the season. [I will] keep working, keep focused for the next race in Pau. I think we can have a chance [there] also, and [I will] keep fighting for the title.”
Remarkably, given the poor start to the year that he and Zengo Motorsport endured, a title challenge really could be possible if the cards continue to fall his way. A flurry of recent good results means that Azcona is within just 26 points of championship leader Yann Ehrlacher – a deficit which is far from insurmountable with three events left to go.