Mikel Azcona: CUPRA ‘really good’ in the wet, but ‘struggles’ in the dry

It’s been a difficult season in the FIA World Touring Car Cup for Zengo Motorsport and their quartet of CUPRA Leons.

With former World Champion Rob Huff and experienced veteran Jordi Gene partnering TCR Europe champion Mikel Azcona and youth prodigy Bence Boldizs, there were high expectations for the team before the season got underway.

However, success has been hard to find for the most part. Azcona is the only one of their drivers to have stepped foot on the podium this year, with Huff, Boldizs and Gene placed 18th, 19th and 20th in the overall standings respectively.

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Now though, as the championship prepares for its final two races of the 2021 season at Sochi Autodrom, they appear to be well-placed to score their best set of results all year.

That said, even this hasn’t been a simple event for the Hungarian squad so far. Things began typically poorly this morning, with two mechanical failures and a severe lack of pace in Free Practice One. However, once the rain began to fall as the day progressed, the team began to look far more comfortable. 

A much-improved showing from Rob Huff and Mikel Azcona in the second practice session was then followed up with even better pace in qualifying. 

Huff will consequently start the main race at Sochi from seventh, and fourth on the reverse-grid. Meanwhile, Azcona made it all the way through to the shoot-out for pole, ultimately losing out to eventual polesitter Yvan Muller in the end though.

Nevertheless, it was still an impressive turnaround by the Zengo Motorsport team. By Azcona’s own admission, they had plenty of work to do after the tricky morning running.

“It was not my best start of the day,” he said. “We had some technical issues in the first free practice, and I didn’t have much experience of the track. 

“It’s a new track for me, almost for everyone. So luckily in free practice two we had wet track conditions and in qualifying I really like these conditions when it’s wet and changeable.

“I tried to do everything, the car was working really good in those conditions. It’s true that in dry conditions we are struggling a little bit compared to the other cars. But in the wet the car feels really good.

“During qualifying, Q1, Q2 and Q3 we were trying to improve the car. We did some changes and it seemed to work, which I’m really happy about. I feel really good after a bad start to the day. 

“I really want to be battling for the podium positions and why not the victories? I am coming from two very difficult weekends, so for me it’s everything.”

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