Hyundai’s Mikel Azcona admits that ‘it is incredible to lead at this point of the year’ after he left the Anneau du Rhin round of the FIA World Touring Car Cup with a 35-point advantage in the drivers’ standings.
Azcona claimed a pair of third-place results – thanks to a penalty for a competitor in the opening race – to leave the second French round with a comfortable cushion at the top of the championship.
In race one, the BRC Racing driver had held third for the first half of the race, but was then passed by Comtoyou Racing’s Gilles Magnus at the penultimate corner.
Thankfully for Azcona, Magnus was later penalised for contact with Esteban Guerrieri earlier in the race, picking up a time penalty which served to put Azcona back in a podium result.
In race two, Azcona came from eighth on the grid to third, gaining two places at the start before passing Tiago Monteiro for fifth on the third lap.
The Spaniard then battled hard with Magnus once again, this time passing the Audi driver with a sliding pass and slight contact just before mid-distance.
Team-mate Norbert Michelisz then allowed Azcona through to claim a podium finish.
“A fantastic weekend – I am very happy with a double podium again,” said Azcona. “It’s been an intense first part of the year, but I am very positive as we only lost one point over the weekend to [Néstor Girolami], the second-place driver in the standings.
“During the races the fight was very tough, I was pushing to the limit in both. I had a lot to lose if I fought too hard, which meant I drove a little more conservative. I had to take the opportunity to make overtakes though.
“I am so happy for the team; they are working incredibly hard, and I am very pleased for them. They have given me a fantastic car which is helping to get these great results and keep us at the top.”
Azcona said the battles with Magnus had been particularly intense around the circuit which was generally considered to be a difficult one on which to overtake.
“It was intense fighting against the Audi of Gilles. In the middle sector I was a bit quicker and on the straights he was quicker. I tried the move but this track is very difficult and I didn’t really see the space [to pass], so I thought ‘let’s wait and see’.
“The next laps I saw he was struggling with the front tyres and I saw the space at Turn Six. It was a close battle and I lost the position again. He was attacking hard in Turn 14 and I got him in Turn One and braking for Turn Two.
“I’m very happy with the result. I think it’s been a fantastic weekend for everybody at the BRC team for the points.
“The car was very good and obviously thanks to Norbi because he did a very good team job today. He was in front but he needed to help me a little bit. Thanks to him.
“I’m happy to keep first position in the championship and it’s looking good for the summer break. It’s a bit more time to relax and to prepare for the next weekends. It’s incredible to lead at this point of the year.”