Néstor Girolami is dreaming of winning the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup. While last weekend’s WTCR Clean Fuels for All Race of France was just the first of 10 scheduled events, the Argentine underlined his intent by winning Race 1 from pole position in his Goodyear-equipped Honda Civic Type R TCR.
Added to the points scored in Race 2 by finishing in seventh position, Argentine Girolami is the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader heading to WTCR Race of Germany, which takes place on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the world’s toughest race track, from May 26-28.
This is what the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport star had to say following his sixth WTCR career victory on the streets of Pau.
Victory in Race 1 at Circuit de Pau-Ville was a great way to start the season but how tough was it to lead from the front?
“It was really nice to start the season like that and to get a 1-2 [with my team-mate Esteban Guerrieri] feels so good. We knew the key of the race was the start and we did it well. We somehow controlled it a little bit, the tyre degradation was there to consider and I didn’t want to use the kerbs because I knew for the tyres it’s not the best. I was cautious.”
What level of focus was required to stay out in front and out of the barriers?
“It is so difficult to go slow at a street circuit because you are prepared to go 100 per cent, and when you start changing reference it can be even more tricky, so you have to be even more focused. It is so difficult to slow down. That’s why I tried pushed every lap and tried to do it quick, because if you slow down too much you lose the focus and your concentration is going down, then the mistakes happen. I tried to keep 80-90 per cent of the pace and that’s how I finished the fight.”
How satisfying is it to win the first race of the season knowing how much effort you put in preparing during the winter?
“We took all the points available, more or less, which is amazing. On a track where it’s such a challenge for everyone, not just us drivers, we were able to achieve so much − set up by a great lap in Qualifying where I was confident to push the Honda Civic Type R TCR to its limits. That was not only important to steer the weekend but also because bigger points are now on offer in Qualifying. I’m so happy with the way René [Münnich] and I worked together this weekend − he’s now my engineer as well as my team boss − and to win our first race together is great. Seeing all my results of the last three years, it’s clear we have a very good start to the season then we lose a little bit of momentum through the season with some crashes and issues, and this is what I’m working on [changing]. To fight for the title we need consistency and pretty much working on the mental approach. This weekend I knew it would be strong for us because our key is really good on street circuits and in this temperature we are strong.”
What can you achieve going forward?
“We need to keep the momentum up and try to be smart this year, but this is the perfect start for that. We have a stronger team for this season and the focus is to get both titles and I will use everything I have learned in the last three seasons to do that. I am in the level to fight for the title finally and this is what I am looking for. You are always looking to become better, as a driver first, as a team as well. The fact we have gone back from four cars to two cars you are getting more focused on preparation, on my car and Esteban’s car.”
Nobody has gone faster around the Nürburgring Nordschleife in a WTCR event than you. How much confidence does this give you for WTCR Race of Germany in just a few weeks?
“Of course we know we have weak points and really strong points in terms of circuits and if we look at Nordschleife we always perform well there. But if we look at Aragón we struggled a lot during the last two seasons. So we need to take points, valuable points at the tracks where we are strong and we need to somehow survive at the tracks where we are not performing well. We need to arrive at the final race fighting for the title. Winning the title is my dream, I left all behind in Argentina because my dream is to win this world title and I will try to be very smart this season to get it.”
And there might be two titles for the Girolami family to celebrate this year − your younger brother Franco, who recently became a father for the first time, leads the TCR Europe standings after the opening rounds…
“For our family, it is a very special moment. It’s the first time that two brothers are leading WTCR and TCR Europe at the same time, so I think we can say we’re both doing a good job so far. Franco adapted very quickly to European racing last year and showed that he has the ability to win. This year, the help I can give him is different, because he is driving for Audi so in a way, now he is a bit more of a rival for me. But also, that means we speak a bit less about racing, so this is also good for our relationship. Still, we like to do simulator together sometimes and to train together as well. We have that competitive spirit and we push each other. We raced in the same series back in Argentina so we’re used to being rivals. Being in different seies and brands helps us separate things. He has his professional interests and I have my own. We are dealing well with that because our teams and brands are important for us, so we want to protect that privacy and we respect that space. Still, it is natural that I am very happy to see him winning in TCR Europe. His goal is to become the champion this year and I really think he can do it. The same for me in WTCR, so we will try to continue making history. It would be fantastic if we can both do it.”