Photo: TCR Europe

Girolami credits importance of having team-mate in new Honda after Spa podium

Néstor Girolami once again proved the pace of the new FL5-spec Honda Civic Type R TCR in the TCR World Tour by qualifying third and finishing second in Race 1 at Spa-Francorchamps.

Having been the sole Honda driver in the opening round at Algarve, Girolami has benefited from the ALM Motorsport team he is driving for expanding to two cars for Spa with the arrival of Danish star Philip Lindberg.

Although Lindberg has so far been off the pace, Girolami has still gained from having a team-mate in reaching a set-up this weekend that would help bring him to the front of the order.

“First of all I would like to congratulate the ALM team, JAS Motorsport, and all the sponsors because we are here in the World Tour thanks to them, they are supporting a lot,” Girolami said to TouringCarTimes.

“And then, speaking about the weekend so far, it’s going well. We were P3 in qualifying, we finished P2 in the main race. We know the Lynk & Cos this weekend are really strong, they showed the pace already in FP1 and we are not at that level yet. But we will keep working, we will try to make it better every session.

“We are in the first year of the model, so we have to still learn many things, and I think the car has a huge potential. But it’s still undergoing many things [in the development] of the car. So for the moment I would say big congratulations, very satisfied with what we did today, and try to score points tomorrow to close the difference between the leaders.”

Girolami has climbed from tenth to seventh in the World Tour standings, and as much as he is encouraged by moving closer to the top, he is also relishing the fact that “it feels really good” to have a team-mate again.

“I mean Portimao I was alone, it was quite boring, to be honest. The last four years I was together with a team-mate, and now feeling back the same feeling as sharing the weekend with a team-mate is really nice. I have to say very thanks to Philip, because he’s a really nice guy, but also very smart and he’s learning so fast.

“So I would say we do a very good team. We just need to keep doing what we did this weekend, and I think he will grow from this weekend, taking a lot of knowledge, and for sure taking the pace back in the next race.”

There are two more European rounds of the TCR World Tour, with grids comprising of entrants focused on the World Tour and others who are also scoring points towards the TCR Europe championship which the World Tour is accompanying for three rounds.

The challenge of heat will grow in later rounds, but was already a talking point with the tyres at Spa. Girolami gave his take on how difficult tyre management with the new Honda was on a warm race day in Belgium.

“Always challenging, but it’s not so hot here at Spa. It would be different when we go to Vallelunga or maybe later on in the season in Macau. But at the moment I will say it’s not an issue.

“Yes, it changes a lot the balance of the car. When we were testing here, it was snowing. So completely different set-up, completely different approach, and you have to deal with different tendencies that when it’s hot is appearing in the car. So let’s see tomorrow. It will be probably hotter, so we need to be prepared for making some changes.”