WTCR Q&A: Mikel Azcona
Less than a week after claiming his breakthrough victory in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO, Mikel Azcona spoke to CUPRA Racing about winning in Vila Real, the importance of the ‘joker’ lap, PWR Racing, his title dreams and more.
How would you sum up the weekend in Vila Real?
“The weekend didn’t start quite well, but we managed to improve quickly, get fantastic results and my first victory. It was a totally new track for me and in each session I was learning and improving. On Saturday we finished the Race 1 in 13th position. On Sunday, when I had more than 20 laps on that track, I started with more confidence and a better pace. We were among the best from the beginning, we got to Q2 and qualified in eighth. That allowed us to start from third in Race 2, and in eighth position in Race 3.”
The ‘joker’ lap was key to the victory, how did you prepare for it?
“The key in this circuit was to make the ‘joker’ lap perfectly, without a doubt, because in Vila Real it is practically impossible to overtake. We manage it in a perfect way. When Esteban Guerrieri made it, he left me a space up to Ma Qinghua. With the pace I had I was able to get to Ma’s rear bumper and when I was stuck to him, my team told me on the radio to do the ‘joker’ lap on the next lap. In that manoeuvre I managed to overtake Guerrieri. When Ma did his ‘joker’ lap, I pushed to the maximum and got in the lead. The work of the whole team was perfect. And in Race 3 we closed the weekend with a fantastic fourth place.”
How would you summarise the first part of the WTCR season?
“Very positive and much better than I expected. I’m fifth in the standings, just 12 points behind the third place and ahead of some world champions. After six weekends of competition it’s incredible to be so high on such a high-level grid, overtaking drivers with so much more experience than me. I am learning and improving every weekend. We are demonstrating that in a few years we will be able to fight to be world champions, because in the first one we are already up there. I didn’t even expect to get on the podium and we did it in the third race in Marrakech.”
You still have a chance for the title. What are your goals?
“We have four weekends in Asia ahead to finish the season, a total of 12 races, in China, Japan, Macau and Malaysia. I face the final part of 2019 like the rest of the season: I will prepare them as much as possible in the simulator to have all the possible experience before arriving. As for my goal, before starting the year I would have said that if I finished in the top 10 of the classification, I would be a very lucky man. Right now, when we are fifth and we still have a chance to get the title.”
Vila Real wasn’t just your first WTCR win, it was also the first win for your team, PWR Racing. What are they like to work with?
“I am very happy and very comfortable in PWR Racing. It’s a very homely team and I’ve had a fantastic relationship since I arrived. My engineer [Joan Navarro] and I feel very comfortable working here. I also have a very good relationship with my team-mate, Daniel Haglöf, who is a fantastic person and driver. And all this influences the results.”