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Néstor Girolami ‘had to take the risk’ in ‘perfect lap’ at Anneau du Rhin

Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami says he ‘had to take the risk’ to secure pole position in qualifying for the FIA World Touring Car Cup at Anneau du Rhin.

Girolami, second in the WTCR drivers’ standings, is still trying to close the gap to leader Mikel Azcona.

The Honda driver made further inroads into that deficit on Saturday in France, taking his second consecutive pole position, although his closest title rival Azcona still managed to qualify in third.

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Following two additional tyre testing sessions on Thursday and Friday, Girolami had built up good knowledge of the circuit and also praised the work of his team in helping him to find a car setup to challenge for pole.

“The car was incredibly good all weekend,” said Girolami. “Here we were testing two days and spending a lot of time on new tyres on Thursday and Friday, so the great job that the team did produced resulted in this.

“Regarding the lap, sector one was our weak sector so I knew I had to do a clean sector one and then push really hard in sector two. It was really a perfect lap.

“When you see how close I was to the tyre stack in the last sector, I thought I was going to hit it with my mirror, but I told myself I had to take the risk because it’s now or never.

“The points all count and we had 36 points − now 34 points − to Mikel and we have to reduce the gaps. There are two rounds left after this weekend and even if we get the 40 kg [the maximum compensation weight] again, points are points and we do our maximum.”

Girolami enjoyed driving on the Anneau du Rhin circuit, which aside from testing earlier in the year, is largely new to the entire field taking part this weekend.

“This year it has been really nice to drive in the Nordscheife, Vallelunga and here at Anneau du Rhin is just amazing. Going on the limit on these kinds of tracks requires 100 per cent commitment. You simply cannot make mistakes.

“You have to set the car up for really fast corners and also for small corners. It’s tricky because if you set up to be safe in the fast corners, you don’t have the speed through the twisty sector, so it becomes a compromise, but I really like the track and I think the spectators tomorrow will have a great battle to watch.”

The Argentine is not too concerned about the start of Sunday’s races, knowing that he is capable of getting strong starts from his Honda Civic.

“So far we made very good starts this season. We’ve had good performance in the first two laps and if we can run in clean air it’s easier.

“But these guys are going really fast on the straights so we have to be sure to do a very good last sector to get the pace and space to stay ahead in the race and try to survive.

“Since we are fighting for the title and I’m sure we’ll all do a clean job and fight with respect.”

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