Ben Bargwanna’s European racing program has officially begun after completing private testing at Portimao overnight ahead of the Kumho TCR World Tour opener this weekend.
Bargwanna is driving the sole Peugeot 308 TCR in the 22-strong field including the likes of world champions Mikael Azcona, Yann Ehrlacher, Norbert Mischelisz, Thed Bjork and Rob Huff.
Also featured is Supercheap Auto TCR Australia race winner Nestor Girolami, sportscar ace Frederic Vervisch and veteran Tom Coronel.
The conditions at Portimao were warm as Bargwanna settled into the Burson Auto Parts Racing Team Clairet Sport Peugeot ahead of the opening Kumho TCR World Tour round.
Gradual improvement from Bargwanna placed him just outside the top 10 in the final test session to conclude Thursday’s action.
“Day one done here in Portimao and what an epic day, I’m still buzzing from it,” Bargwanna said.
“It’s such a cool track, it’s one of the best circuits I’ve ever driven on. Even the facilities are just amazing, the set-up is really cool and totally different to Australia.
“We had two sessions today, the first for me was just about learning the track. It’s the same car, but not my usual Garry Rogers Motorsport-prepared Peugeot, so I’m getting used to that and getting a good feel for things like the brakes. The balance was good, but still had a lot of time in me.
Working with Team Clairet Sport is providing an opportunity for Bargwanna to learn quickly and even the potential to bring fresh ideas back to the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series.
“It was good, we found where I was weak and we rolled out in Practice 2 with some new learnings.”
“I’m discovering a lot thanks to Jimmy and Teddy Clairet, they’re very smart in addition to being very knowledgeable about these cars.
“I’m learning some new tricks, which is cool and hopefully some stuff I can take back to Australia.”
Completing the day on a high provides good momentum for Bargwanna entering the formal practice sessions, qualifying and the two races this weekend.
“Practice 2 we were a lot better, I was a lot faster and the track was hot,”
“It was good, we gained a lot of time and we still have some to find, but so we should as it’s only Thursday.”
“These big boys are fast and the new generation cars are quick. We’re going to do the best we can, but we’ve had a very good first day.”
“I’m really excited, loving it and having a great time and I can’t wait to get back out there.”
All the action from the inaugural Kumho TCR World Tour will be broadcast by Stan Sport starting this weekend at Portimao.
The next round of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series is at Phillip Island as part of the Shannons SpeedSeries event on 12-14 May.