Photo: TCR Media

Jimmy Clairet breaks into the top 12 at Spa at a difficult track for Peugeot

Sébastien Loeb Racing driver Jimmy Clairet qualified the new Peugeot 308 Racing Cup in 11th position for its TCR International Series debut at Spa-Francorchamps, with the French driver saying the weekend is one about experience, with the Belgian circuit not favouring the 1.6 litre turbocharged 308.

The 25-year-old managed to hurl the 308 into the top 12 in Q1, displacing the WestCoast Racing Honda of Kevin Gleason who had been fastest in FP2 on Thursday.

Although the Frenchman missed out on the all-important top ten and a shot at the reversed grid pole, the SLR driver was happy with the results of qualifying.

“I’m very happy for the team and myself,” said Clairet to TouringCarTImes. “We tried to work on the car during practice to improve the car. I don’t know the track very well so I’m gaining experience lap-by-lap.

“It’s not the best track for this car, but the chassis is really good, and we’ll hope to prove it on another track later in the season.”

Starting 11th in the 18 car field for both races, Clairet is hoping to fair well but admits the goal is more one of learning.

“Of course I’ll do my best and try and get the best place at the finish, but our main objective is to finish the races this weekend and gain experience,” he explained.

The 308 is the only car in the field running a 1.6 litre turbocharged engine, while its rivals are running with 2.0 litre engines. As a result, the TCR organisers are allowing the car to run at a base weight of 1,225kg, 100kg lighter than the SEAT León and Honda Civic, and 60kg lighter than the Volkswagen Golf TCRs this weekend.