Teddy Clairet says that ‘it’s really important to prove that we can still be fast’ after he finished second behind new champion Mikel Azcona in Saturday’s opening TCR Europe race in Barcelona.
Clairet secured his third podium finish of the season in the opening encounter, jumping ahead of Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Sami Taoufik at the start of the race to hold second.
Despite having no significant challenge from behind, Clairet was unable to close down eventual winner Azcona to challenge for the win, and the Peugeot driver admitted that the new CUPRA champion simply had more pace than him.
“To be honest during this race he was a bit faster than me,” said Clairet to TouringCars.Net. “This year it’s really tight and it’s always difficult to overtake. I didn’t have the pace to fight with him and for me I wasn’t faster than him.
“The key for me was the start; to make a better start than Taoufik and to overtake him. Then it was difficult because the safety car was really long and it’s always easy to sleep a little bit and to lose some concentration in this period. I had to concentrate myself and not make any mistakes.
“I drove well and did my best, but I think he [Azcona] was a bit faster and it wasn’t possible to win, so when it’s not possible to win you have to do the best result you can do, and I am happy with P2 today.”
Clairet carried no compensation weight into the event, and the Frenchman says this helped him to secure a podium finish – with his only other visits to the rostrum in 2021 coming when he has been equally free of weight.
“We have some difficulties with the car, because when we take weight with the compensation weight, we always struggle a lot.
“For us, when we have this kind of weekend when we are free of additional weight, it’s really important for us to prove that we are here and we can be still be fast.”
Looking ahead to the final race of the season, Clairet believes he can score another strong result to end his campaign – provided he can make it through the first corners unscathed from third on the reversed grid.
“It will be important again to make a good start and to be clever at the first corner, because it will be the reverse grid and the last race of the season, so maybe there will be some mess in front.
“It will be important to put the nose of the car in the right place. That will be the most important thing tomorrow.”
Clairet is only focussed on the final race of the year, and admits that he doesn’t yet know if he will be back in the championship again next season.
“I would like to say that we will come back again and fight [in 2022], but we can’t tell this now, because it’s not sure.
“We don’t yet know our plans for next season, so I want to enjoy today and tomorrow and we will see for next year.”