Race Track / 03 May 2014

FIA WTCC - Round 3 - Hungaroring

Honda Civics set top 5 times for Hungaroring WTCC thriller

The Honda Civics of Gabriele Tarquini  and Tiago Monteiro battled their way into the top five places after the close fought official qualifying sessions for the FIA World Touring Car Championship here at the Hungaroring this afternoon. In Q1 local hero Norbert Michelisz posted the 3rd fastest time over the 4.38km course in the Zengo Motorsport Civic much to the delight of his many, cheering fans! Tiago was 6th fastest immediately ahead of Mehdi Bennani in the Proteam Racing Civic with Gabriele next up in 8th place.

Q2 proved to be the most dramatic session of the season so far, 10 minutes of total commitment by the 12 fastest drivers from Q1. Bennani posted a quick time on his very first flying lap which looked likely to put him through to the 5 car shoot-out for pole position in Race 1. Michelisz was unable to set a time as his Civic suffered suspension damage when the car rode over the kerb, forcing the popular Hungarian out of the session and far down the grid for tomorrow’s race.

With just 2 minutes of the session to run, the wily Tarquini took the number 2 Civic out of the pits to challenge the stopwatch. He set a personal best time in the first sector of the lap and was fastest overall in sector 2 and again set a personal best on sector 3 to snatch the fastest time of the session to much applause. In the few seconds remaining Monteiro push his Civic even harder to snatch 3rd fastest time to take both the Castrol Honda Racing cars through to the final 5 car shoot-out.

Each car runs a single lap in Q3 to determine the top five grid positions for race 1 which will see Tiago start on the second row of the grid in 4th position with Gabriele 5th and Mehdi Bennani  6th overall. Michelisz will start in 12th position.

“I am really happy with the balance of my car now and I am looking forward to a really big fight in the race tomorrow,” said Tarquini.

Tiago was also pleased with the performance. “Tyre wear, especially with the weight difference, will play an important role in the race tomorrow and I am optimistic that spectators will enjoy a great battle.”

Daisuke Horiuchi, Large Project Leader for WTCC engine development from Honda R&D was pleased with the performance.

“We are much closer to the front now at the third race meeting. This is a good team improvement. We have been adjusting the engine mapping to improve traction and working with the drivers to improve the acceleration out of the corners. I am very pleased to have two cars in Q3.”

“After Q2 I was very pleased with the positions. Unfortunately Gabriele did not have a very good lap and I was frustrated that we did not end with two cars in the top three places. Overall, I am really happy since the first test on Friday and all through the practices and qualifying, all four Hondas have shown consistent, strong performances. We are definitely catching-up and that is really encouraging,” said Alessandro Mariani, Managing Director, J.A.S. Motorsport.

Startgrid Race 1:  1. Yvan Muller, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 1’48”727; 2. José Lopez, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 1’48”761; 3. Sébastien Loeb, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 1’49”113; 4. Tiago Monteiro, Honda Civic WTCC 1’49”166; 5. Gabriele Tarquini, Honda Civic WTCC 1’50”576; 6. Mehdi Bennani, Honda Civic WTCC 1’49”745; 7. Tom Chilton, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 1’49”757; 8. Tom Coronel, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 1’50”428; 9. Gianni Morbidelli, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 1’50”728; 10. Hugo Valente, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 1’52”123; 11. Norbert Michelisz, Honda Civic WTCC 1’49”421