Podium was very important, says Jiří Zbožínek in mid-season

Podium was very important, says Jiří Zbožínek in mid-season

8. 7. 2024 0 News , ,

This year, Jiří Zbožínek moved up from a fourth-generation Renault Clio to a Hyundai Elantra TCR. This step up to a faster car and the TCR Eastern Europe championship has benefited the Czech driver. With Hyundai Janík Motorsport team, he has been closing the gap to his teammates and recently secured his first podium finish in Slovakia.

From last year’s Clio Cup to TCR Eastern Europe with the winning team Janík Motorsport. What motivated this move?
Essentially, it was about finances. After last season in the Clio Cup, where I struggled due to numerous technical issues, I didn’t want to continue with the same car for another year. So, together with my dad, we started looking into the Clio V. However, we found out that the costs were almost on par with a TCR car. We kept pondering this until, during the winter, Janík Motorsport offered me a chance to join their team.

How significant is the step for a driver moving from a Clio to a Hyundai TCR? Did you have any habits from the Clio that you had to unlearn?
For me, it was quite a significant step because the TCR car is heavier, longer, and more powerful. I had to gradually get used to and learn to handle all these aspects, and I’m still learning. One issue was my habit of easing off the throttle too smoothly before corners, which I had to unlearn. The new skills I needed to develop in TCR included braking and car rotation in corners, where the rear end rotates during braking into the turn. Mastering these skills was crucial to keeping up with the fastest drivers.

During the first race weekend, you were still behind your teammates, but you’ve shown progress, culminating in a podium at Slovakia Ring. How important was that third place for you?
It was very important to me personally because I needed a good result. I’m very pleased that I achieved it, especially considering the preparation I did before each weekend and the hard work the team put in to ensure everything was in order. It was great to repay them with a podium finish.

How do you collaborate with team mates Maťo Homola and Adam Kout? How much do they help you progress?
We collaborate by discussing how to improve driving techniques, whether it’s about braking or cornering – basically, the overall driving style. Both have much more experience than I do, so I try to absorb as much knowledge as possible to learn and advance quickly. They have significantly helped my progress by reviewing onboard footage and data with me, analyzing my driving, and giving me advice on what to improve. I am very grateful for their help, which has undoubtedly pushed me forward.

Which race has been your biggest challenge so far, and why?
I’d say Balaton Park was the biggest challenge because it was my first time there, and I was in a new car that I had to adapt to. Additionally, I had to get used to the team, learn how to communicate and work within the team, making it the most challenging race for me in every aspect.

What are your expectations for the second half of the season? And how do you feel about the season finale at the unique Salzburgring? Have you ever raced there before?
I expect to continue where I left off in the second half of the season, and I hope to repeat my podium success. I’m really looking forward to Salzburgring because the track looks interesting and fast, consisting mostly of high-speed corners, which suits me well. I’ve never raced there before, but I’ll do my best to prepare on the simulator.