WTCC / 02 December 2017
Honda secure WTCC runner-up spot with Guerrieri win
Honda scored victory in the final race of the FIA World Touring Car Championship to secure the runner-up spots in both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ points tables.
Polesitter Esteban Guerrieri claimed a lights-to-flag victory in the Main Race at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar to add to a 10th-placed finish in the reversed-grid Opening Race.
He was joined on the podium by Tiago Monteiro, who was nominated to collect the winning manufacturer trophy on behalf of Honda.
Esteban’s victory was his first since joining Honda and the fifth Main Race victory of the year for the JAS Motorsport-run Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team; the highest number achieved by any of the competitors in the 2017 season. It also moved the Argentinian up to fourth in the end-of-season points table.
His team-mate Norbert Michelisz began Friday night’s races just 8.5 points behind his title rival in the battle for the Drivers’ Championship, but started 11th on both occasions after a braking issue affected his qualifying performances.
He made strong starts to both races to move up several places, but with overtaking extremely difficult on the Losail circuit due to its succession of long, sweeping corners, he was limited to ninth and eighth places in the two races.
While this was not quite enough to secure the title, he did claim second place in the points table; the best position ever achieved by a Hungarian driver in an FIA circuit racing World Championship. He also ended the season with the highest number of pole positions and Main Race wins of any driver.
Ryo Michigami started 13th twice and finished 14th in the Opening Race after losing positions at the start. Several set-up changes improved his car for the Main Race and he was able to end the season with a points finish.
Hungarian team Zengo Motorsport, who run a pair of JAS-built Civics, reached the finish with both cars. Daniel Nagy recorded a best result of 13th in the Main Race with Zsolt David Szabo two places further back.
They finished ninth and 14th in the WTCC Trophy standings for independent teams with Zengo sixth in the Teams’ Trophy points table.
Esteban Guerrieri, Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team, said: “I’m extremely pleased to end the season with a victory; my first since joining Honda. The team improved the car a lot after the Opening Race and in the Main Race the car was the best I’ve ever driven in my career; it was just perfect and I could control the race comfortably. I’d like to thank Honda for giving me the opportunity to drive for a works team in a World Championship. I know the circumstance only came about because of Tiago’s injuries, and it was very special to celebrate with him on the podium.”
Alessandro Mariani, Team Principal, said: “Today we were in total control in terms of speed. Esteban dominated the Main Race and Norbi was the strongest driver in qualifying, but unfortunately had a technical issue that meant he could not qualify where he deserved to. We have shown all season that we had the fastest car because we have won the most Main Races and had the most pole positions. I’m very disappointed that Norbi did not have the chance to win the Championship, but I am very proud of the engineering job we have done as a collaboration between the engineers from Honda, Mugen and JAS in producing the fastest TC1 car in the world.”