Mikel Azcona said victory in the opening FIA World Touring Car Cup race in Bahrain was ‘not easy’ even though the Hyundai driver extended his championship lead with a lights-to-flag victory.
Azcona had earlier in the day bagged his second pole position of the season in qualifying, but at the start of race one he was expected to come under pressure from the Audi of Nathanaël Berthon.
In the end, that challenge didn’t materialise as Berthon made a poor start and Azcona’s team-mate Norbert Michelisz quickly moved into second, providing a comfortable buffer for the BRC Racing driver.
Even though track and ambient temperatures would have been cooler due to the race taking place at night in Bahrain, Azcona insisted that it was not an easy race.
“Probably from the TV you could see that it was an easy race, but from my view it wasn’t an easy race,” said the 26-year-old.
“Even though we were racing in night conditions the track temperature was high and you started to feel the big degradation on the front.
“Obviously it was very comfortable to have Norbi behind me, it made my race much easier.
“First of all from the start I tried to do my best and I saw very quickly that he [Berthon] was having some problems.
“For me it was much better going into Turn 1 and that was the key of the race. From this point I was trying to have good control of the car, trying to avoid the big kerbs and trying not to have any problems on the tyres especially.
“It was very tough, especially because of the high temperature inside of the cockpit.
“It’s obviously fantastic for the title – good points. We increased our lead over [Néstor] Girolami and obviously [it was good] for the team.
“Having Norbi second as well is very good for the manufacturers’ standings and increasing our lead. A fantastic weekend for us at the moment.”
Azcona is anticipating Saturday’s race two to be even harder due to it taking place in mid-morning in the Middle Eastern country.
“Tomorrow in the morning will be, I think, much more difficult because of the high temperatures. If we have suffered today tomorrow morning will be tougher.
“But we need to think: we have the information from today’s race, we have three cars so we will see altogether now.
“A long briefing and we will prepare the car as well as possible for tomorrow and I’m sure we will be there. Our pace was there during the whole weekend. Why not tomorrow?”