Photo: TCR Europe

Santiago Urrutia says he “didn’t really have the pace” en route to TCR World Tour win

Santiago Urrutia may have gone unchallenged up front in TCR World Tour Race 2 at Algarve, but he is adamant that he did not have the pace for such a composed win.

The Lynk & Co Cyan Racing driver qualified tenth, which meant he started from pole position on the reversed grid for Race 2. He was immediately defensive at the start, then had to hold off team-mate Thed Björk at two safety car restarts, but otherwise looked untroubled as he led all 14 laps. But he says the victory was far harder than it looked.

“It was a difficult weekend for us because we came with a new car, not a lot of testing, so we struggled here a little bit,” Urrutia said to TouringCarTimes.

“I was lucky to get P10 in qualifying so I could get the reversed-grid pole. Yesterday was a bit unlucky. I got hit by Yann [Ehrlacher, team-mate], and then I had contact with Tom [Coronel], but today was as expected. To get a good start, the car was – I mean we need to work on the car, you know. I wasn’t that quick.

“Luckily I had Thed behind, he was like blocking a little bit the Audis behind, but we have a lot of work to do. Anyway, a win is a win. So today is a day to celebrate with the team, one-two. It’s not often that we do a one-two. So I’m happy, and we need to focus on the next race and see if we can get the car better.”

Urrutia had previously commented that he was concerned how a straightline speed deficit could leave him exposed up front, and TouringCarTimes asked him post-race if that fear had been proven correct.

“I was worried at the beginning, but then it was my team-mate that was helping me to maintain the lead,” he replied. “But I didn’t really have the pace, to be honest. I mean I was flat-out, I didn’t control the tyres or anything, I was just flat. And I got a really good restart which I gained a bit of time on him and the rest of the field, so I think that helped me a little bit.

“I think Coronel when he was P3, he helped us a little bit because he was a bit slower than his team-mates. I want to say again I think we have a lot of work to do, and it’s just the beginning of a new car so we need to improve a lot.

“It’s new car, new tyres, so we still need to understand how this tyre works. We don’t really want to go really aggressive on the tyres because then we have risk of delaminations, which we had already on Thursday [in pre-event testing]. So we don’t really know which way to go, to be honest.

“If you push too much on the tyres, you know you’re going to be quicker, but you risk to have delaminations. So you kind of try to not push as much as you can the tyres, but work a little bit on the set-up [to accommodate]. We’re a bit there at the moment, so we need to work and see which way we will take for the future.”