Early WTCR pace exceeded 2019 expectations, Girolami admits
Néstor Girolami’s early-season trio of wins exceeded his expectations during his WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup debut campaign and made his dropping out of the title fight more dramatic than it actually was.
Girolami won twice at WTCR Race of Hungary and also took the chequered flag first in Race 2 at WTCR Race of Slovakia. However, he wouldn’t win again thereafter and slipped from first to seventh in the final order, making just one further podium visit.
Reflecting on his 2019 season with the Honda-powered ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team, Girolami explained why he wasn’t able to stay at the top of the order, but why he’s still proud of what he achieved.
“We started the year quite well in Marrakech, doing a podium and continuing in Budapest [by] winning two of three races, that was amazing,” said the Argentine. “In Slovakia we won again so the first three races were fantastic. We achieve more than I expected but [then] we started to have a little bit of bad luck, especially at Nürburgring where I had the problem with the exhaust and we were not able to go out of the pit, so I lose Race 2 and Race 3.
“The second part of the year was really bad luck, the problem with Ma [Qinghua in Second Qualifying] in Ningbo, a confusion between me and the engineer, and in Suzuka with the engine when I was P3 in qualifying again. We had to replace the engine and I had to start last. If you take Nürburgring, Ningbo and Suzuka away we had the possibility to be in the top three in the championship but the bad luck came. We had to accept that because we could not control [what happened]. But as a driver I learned a lot [in 2019] and I’m much more confident for 2020.
“My goal was to be able to do a very good job and be competitive. I showed my pace in the first half of the year and couldn’t expect more at the start. Once you realise you can be competitive you want to keep this pace so I need to learn from the mistake to be able to fight for the championship in Malaysia.”
Girolami has been confirmed as one of four Honda-supported drivers for the upcoming WTCR season although the identity of the team that will run his Honda Civic Type R TCR will be announced at a later date.