PWR Racing, CUPRA and the FIA WTCR circus traveled to Japan and the famous Suzuka circuit for the eight round of the 2019 championship. PWR Racing junior and FIA WTCR rookie Mikel Azcona headed into the weekend fifth in the drivers standings with three rounds to go. This is how the weekend unfolded.
Chaotic quali sessions & Spanish superpowers
A stormy qualifying with heavy downpour made for a chaotic first session. PWR Racing co-founder and FIA WTCR driver Daniel Haglöf got a bitter taste of just how much water was on track when he aquaplaned, got stuck and caused a red flag, therefore getting his fastest lap deleted. Mikel Azcona was unlucky enough to be hit by another aquaplaning car, destroying his front suspension with no possibility to set a competitive time.
– Just one of those sessions. We had the speed to be fast, but conditions where super tricky and when you get hit by another car there’s not much you can do, said Mikel Azcona.
Come the second qualifying session Azcona got a sweet redemption as he made it all the way through to Q3 in his CUPRA TCR and finished P3. Haglöf didn’t get any fast enough laps and had to settle for a starting position further down the grid for all three races.
– Qualifying P3 on a new track, in these conditions, in this competition, hat off. A very impressive showing from our junior supertalent Azcona, said Emil Axelsson, team principal at PWR Racing.
Tough races in front of Japanese super crowd
The first race day at Suzuka played out on Saturday with the team having limited chances of scoring points, following the unlucky first qualifying on friday. However, both Azcona and Haglöf made up some positions, crossing the finish line P17 and P20 respectively.
The two sunday races, with Azcona starting both P8 and P3 thanks to the reverse grid order in one of them, looked set for some good points scoring and possibly a podium. A first heat P8 finish was a promising sign for the second heat of the day, starting from third on the grid. However, this went on to be one of those weekends where things just didn’t work out. Azcona got stuck in the start and fell back through the field, managing a P18 finish at the end as team mate Haglöf had a DNF with four laps to go.
Azcona still sits fifth in the driver standings, as PWR Racing drops one position from fifth to sixth in the team championship.
– This was a tough weekend for us results wise. Azcona showed we had the speed for more, but sometimes it doesn’t convert to championship points. We’re constantly learning and now we just have to regroup for the next round at Macau. It will be a hard and fun one I think, said Daniel Haglöf.