Maťo Homola is an experienced touring car racer. In 2021, he joined the Hyundai Janík Motorsport team, and this year they achieved both the driver’s and team’s titles in TCR Eastern Europe. Consistent results were the motto of their joint effort.
Maťo Homola is the champion of TCR Eastern Europe for 2023. How does it sound to you?
Absolutely fantastic. The last time I became a champion was in 2011, which was quite a long time ago. Since then, I have been racing in the European Touring Car Cup or TCR, and during that time, I managed to become a vice-champion but never a champion. I can say that after the not-so-successful seasons, this year’s title has boosted my confidence. We performed well, we were fast and consistent.
Apart from the career milestone, what else has changed for you with the title?
The title has helped me psychologically. As I mentioned, in the past seasons, good results were missing, and this year showed that I am capable of achieving success. Of course, the team played a huge part in it. They prepared a high-quality and reliable car, with which I was able to finish races and win. So, the title has helped me on the psychological side. As for my approach to racing, I can’t say that anything has changed.
In previous years, you raced in the TCR Europe. How do you evaluate the competition in TCR Eastern Europe?
Very high. There were several foreign drivers from international and national TCR championships in the field, and it was evident that they had experience. We definitely had to fight for the title. Moreover, the field was more numerous than in the European championship, so the level of TCR Eastern Europe is really high, and I’m glad that we were present here. It is also positive that the circuits were relatively close, and I raced in front of home fans at the Slovakia Ring.
You have been racing with the Hyundai Elantra for the second year, previously with the Hyundai i30 N. How do these two cars differ?
The truth is that in TCR, you constantly have to work to find the ideal setup for the car according to your driving style. We worked on that throughout last season and evolved. In certain areas and on some circuits, I struggled quite a bit because the Elantra is completely different from the i30, especially on twisty tracks. I had to adjust my driving style. At the same time, we changed our approach to car setup, and it paid off. We really have to go into the smallest details in the setup to be fast.
How important was it to start this season with a victory at Oschersleben?
At Oschersleben, we saw that the competition was strong. Petr Fulín and the entire Mertel Motorsport team with René Kircher and Davit Kajaia were dangerously close. The victory in the first race gave me confidence, and I could check off the first task on the list. Then we focused on consistent results. Avoiding unnecessary risks and finishing among the top three are the foundations of success in TCR. For example, at the Red Bull Ring, we knew we wouldn’t win the qualifying. Therefore, the goal was to gather as many points as possible. Of course, during the season, I sometimes had luck when my competitors made mistakes ahead of me, but that’s motorsport.
In the middle of the season, René Kircher caught up with you in terms of points. How significant was the double victory at the home Slovakia Ring?
That weekend changed a lot. René was very close in the standings, but I felt very confident at the Slovakia Ring. I had driven a lot of laps there, probably more than any of my competitors. Of course, I felt the pressure and the eyes of a huge number of fans in the stands, but I knew we had a great car, and I could win.
In the penultimate event at the Autodrom Most, there was a chance to secure the title in advance. Was that your goal?
First and foremost, I focused on racing. I didn’t count points, and I didn’t think about the title. That would distract me. I tried not to take unnecessary risks on the track and not think about the title, which, in my opinion, was the best approach. When it worked out, it was certainly a great joy.
Now you have qualified for the TCR World Final. Was it one of the main goals before the season?
Exactly. Getting into the world final and achieving consistent results were the main objectives. The world final is a novelty this year, and it brings together the most successful drivers from international TCR championships. If you become the best, you become the world champion. I’m glad that I managed to secure the 12th spot and qualify for the final. So,I will be participating in the TCR World Final, and I see it as a great opportunity to compete against some of the best drivers from various TCR championships around the world. It will be a tough challenge, but I’m looking forward to it and will do my best to achieve a good result.