Photo: TCR Europe

Ehrlacher explains how route to TCR World Tour lead was harder than it looked

Cyan Racing’s Yann Ehrlacher moved into the TCR World Tour lead with victory in Race 1 at Spa-Francorchamps, and says his lights-to-flag victory was harder than it looked.

Ehrlacher maintained a small gap to ALM Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami all race, but never let him close enough to challenge for the win despite a mid-race safety car period reducing the early lead that Ehrlacher had built up.

Although the gap grew back up to 1.637 seconds by the finish, Ehrlacher said it was actually in those late laps when he was pulling slightly away that the race was at its toughest for him.

“The tyres held up to the end, apparently,” Ehrlacher joked. “It was okay up until two laps to the end.

“Two laps to the end it started to be like kind of a drop. Even if it looks easy, I was not controlling because Bebu [Girolami] was pushing behind me so I wanted to maintain a safe gap that he’s not in my tow. Because they [the Hondas] have a good top speed. I didn’t want him to be in my tow.

“So I kept it like flatout all the race. Maybe four laps to the end I start to manage a little bit, and two laps to the end I felt a big drop then I look in my mirror, Bebu looked to have the same drop. So then it was a bit difficult to the end, but the gap was big enough to control.”

While the safety car interruption did close the gap and break Ehrlacher’s rhythm, running at lower speeds was a positive factor in the tyre life.

“It was not easy because the gap was big, I had to heat the tyre quite a lot to build that gap to get out of the tow. And then when the safety car came out, it destroyed everything and I had to redo everything again,” he explained to TouringCarTimes.

“But we had a good restart, so I could pull a gap direct on Bebu at the start and then he was out of the tow directly from turn one. So then it was just like maintaining the gap, pushing but trying to keep this gap that we build a little bit lap after lap. So yeah, that was a good race.”

When asked what his expectations are for the reversed-grid Race 2, Ehrlacher said: “It’s difficult, you know. Overtaking an Audi in the straight here is almost impossible. So I will just take it as it comes, avoiding dramas and putting some points on the board.”