FIA World Touring Car Cup championship leader Néstor Girolami says he ‘knew it would be a strong weekend’ for himself and Münnich Motorsport in Pau, after he claimed the first win of the season.
Girolami had qualified his Münnich Motorsport Honda on pole position for the opening race of the day in Pau, and the Argentine duly delivered a lights-to-flag win, heading home team-mate Esteban Guerrieri.
The 32-year-old followed that up with seventh in race two, which was enough to mean he leaves the first weekend of the season at the top of the drivers’ standings with 49 points, seven ahead of Guerrieri.
“It was really nice to start the season like that and to get a 1-2 at Pau for the first race of the season feels so good,” said Girolami. “We knew the key thing of the race was the start and we did it well.
“The tyre degradation was consistency high and I didn’t want to use the kerbs because I knew for the tyres it’s not the best. Mid-race I was just trying to survive, and I was also informed one Audi had a puncture on the front left so I was even more cautious about that.”
Girolami admitted that, having also started the season strong in 2019 and 2020 before falling away in the championship fight later in the year on both occasions, he was cautious about getting too carried away about leading the standings already.
“Seeing all my results of the last three years, it’s clear we have a very good start to the season and lost a little bit of momentum through the season with some crashes and issues, and this is what I’m working on.
“To fight for the championship we need consistency and pretty much working on the mental approach.
“This weekend I knew it would be strong for us because our key is really good on street circuits and in this temperature we are strong.”
Girolami is now working with Team Principal René Münnich as his engineer, and he was pleased to reward the relationship with a victory, the sixth of his WTCR career, already.
“I think we took all the points available this weekend, more or less, which is amazing. On a track where it’s such a challenge for everyone, not just us drivers, we were able to achieve so much – set up by a great lap in qualifying where I was confident to push the Honda Civic Type R TCR to its limits.
“That was not only important to steer the weekend but also because bigger points are now on offer in qualifying.
“I’m so happy with the way René and I worked together this weekend – he’s now my engineer as well as my team boss – and to win our first race together is great.
“We need to keep the momentum up and try to be smart this year, but this is the perfect start for that.”