Pepe Oriola delighted to be championship leader

Pepe Oriola took yet another double podium finish and managed to get in the lead of the championship, having scored two points more than Target Competition’s Stefano Comini so far.

The Spaniard did not think he could have managed to reach this goal, but is happy he managed to do so: “I wanted to leave Austria leading the championship and I succeeded, so I’m very happy,” said the Craft-Bamboo Lukoil driver. “Yesterday in qualifying the results were not so good, we had issues with the setup, traffic and myself. I never drove here and I was still fast in Free Practice 1, so I expected a little more, but to be honest I thought it would have been difficult to reach that goal, so it’s even better.”

Oriola also shared his opinions about the first race with TouringCarTimes: “In Race 1 I had a really good start and progressed up to second when Comini and Gianni Morbidelli made contact. When I saw the Honda coming fast behind me I left him enough space to let him through, but he still touched me. I don’t understand why he did it, if you have such a quick car you don’t have to push people, especially as I was letting him through, but with that contact Andrea Belicchi was able to pass as well.”

Talking about his second race, the Spaniard says that after the first few laps it was a waiting game: “I waited for a mistake from Grachev and it came, so I progressed up to third. I pushed hard and caught Jordi (Gené) and Pol (Rosell), I waited for my opportunity as they were fighting and it came when my team-mate tried to overtake the Golf. The perfect end would have been to win, I could have risked and tried to pass but I knew that Stefano (Comini) was ninth, so I didn’t want to risk 18 points just to win and settled for second.”

The Spaniard concedes that leading the championship at this stage means little more than being in the hunt: “It is good to be in the lead, but of course everybody knows that nothing will be decided until Macau. Things can change all the time, so I will keep my focus and fight hard.”

Speaking to TouringCarTimes, Oriola also emphasized the role of his simulator work: “I never raced here, I only had feedback from my brother Jordi, who raced here in the SEAT Eurocup last week. He told me it is very easy to exceed the track limits and he was right, but apart from that I could only draw on the experience I made on the simulator.

I probably should have been smarter and avoided to tell my team-mate Jordi, but it’s fine because I want him to be fast anyway. It is very good and very helpful, as I was quick from the word go here despite never having been here. I will surely use it ahead of Singapore and Buriram.”

Singapore is scheduled for September, 20th, where the TCR International Series will be part of the support package to the FIA Formula One World Championship.