Points leader Antti Buri aims for fresh Sunday redemption
TCR Germany championship leader Antti Buri has set his sights on yet another Race 2-based weekend overhaul after struggling to match the frontrunning pace in Nürburgring qualifying.
LMS Racing Audi driver Buri wound up seventh fastest in the grid-deciding session on Saturday morning, some six tenths behind pole man Thierry Neuville as Hyundai drivers occupied five of the top six places.
Buri leads a title fight that currently involves predominantly himself, reigning champion Harald Proczyk, Mike Halder and Max Hesse.
All three of his main rivals will start ahead of Buri on the Nürburgring Race 1 grid, with Halder’s Honda Civic Type R TCR the only non-Hyundai in the top five.
Buri has been in a similar position on several occasions this season, but has made a successful habit out of turning the tables in the reverse-grid Race 2 on the Sundays – winning the weekend finale three times out of four and finishing second at the latest meeting at Zandvoort.
The Finn, who will start this weekend’s Race 2 from third and ahead of his main championship antagonists, has targeted a Nürburgring repeat.
“It is by the plan,” Buri told TouringCarTimes. “Score points today, try to lose the minimum, stay out of trouble and attack on Sunday because at the moment we don’t have the pace to fight for pole position against the Hyundais.”
Buri said being one out of just two Audis in the field (the other being driven by teenager René Kircher) didn’t help his cause as he battles the multi-car Hyundai squads.
“I’m not the only Audi, but the other one is still in the learning process so he’s a little bit off the pace. For sure it affects the compensation weight. It’s also maybe a bit track-related. Like the Red Bull Ring where we were strong, but then we instantly collected 40kg of ballast and then we were off again. But, yeah, generally in these smaller tracks we seem to struggle more.”
When asked where he felt the main deficit to the Hyundais lies, Buri replied:
“I don’t know, but I think it’s mid-speed corners. Maybe the handling is better; I don’t know, I haven’t driven the Hyundai for a few years. It probably has developed a lot. It’s quite the same straight-line speed, especially this season when everyone has quite the same power curves, so straight-line speed is peanuts. It’s more the handling, but I’m quite happy with our set-up here actually.
“Maybe I didn’t get the absolute most out of it [in qualifying], but I was pleased with the lap and how the car handled. Still, we were six tenths off and that’s still disappointing.”