Mat’o Homola hails “perfect qualifying” after superb third place at Spa
Mat’o Homola says his surprise third place in TCR Europe qualifying for the opening race at Spa-Francorchamps was the “perfect session” for his Janík Motorsport Hyundai team after a tricky start to the year.
Homola, who is competing in a previous generation i30 N TCR this season, admitted that he took risks “everywhere” in order to secure his best qualifying performance of the year but feels he can’t be a match for the Sébastien Loeb Racig Elantras on the straights.
“That was a perfect qualifying session for us, I must say,” explained Homola.
“Our goal was to be in the top ten for the reversed grid for Race 2 as we knew we are not the fastest on the straights.”
Speaking later to TouringCarTimes, Homola talked through his final flying lap which he labelled as “full gas”.
“This was maximum attack from me, I used everything inside of me for this lap,” he added.
“I don’t know where it came from. The team did a very good job because we have been struggling a lot so far this season and we are always slowest on the straights.
“We are still down a bit on the BOP but that is normal. We saw that we were still down on the straightline speed so we made some changes to the car after practice for qualifying and then it went in the right direction for us.”
Like his Elantra brand-mates, Homola was unable to utilise the slipstream effect down the long Kemmel Straight to boost his lap-time, instead finding a set-up tweak which allowed him to push to the limit, particularly in the second sector where the i30 N came into its own.
“Even though I didn’t have the slipstream, I managed the time and I really needed big balls on Eau Rouge,” Homola said.
“I was taking risks everywhere, Pouhon especially actually. There I was 100% pushing and I think I squeezed everything out of the car and that is quite visible on the timing sheets.
“But I was still easily within the track limits there; the track limits are quite different and not so strict so that helped. But anyway, I was on the inside of the limits so it was fine. If the limits were like the previous years then I don’t think I would have been able to achieve this result today.”
Homola believes the race pace in his i30 N TCR has been the main strength of the car this year and is aiming for more joy in the opening race this evening, despite accepting that the more aerodynamically efficient Hyundais maintain the advantage.
“Right now it’s impossible to overtake the Elantras on pure speed but I think we can be quite good in the race because our race pace is competitive,” he explained.
“I’ve always made some positions in the races this year so we’ll see.
“I will fight of course in the race. I have very good starts with the Hyundais, but nobody knows what will happen in the races. I am experienced enough to know what to do on the first lap so I am excited to see what it will be like.”