Race Track / 19 April 2014


FIA WTCC ? Round 2 ? Circuit Paul Ricard ? 18-19-20 April

The Honda Civic WTCC of Gabriele Tarquini will start Race 1 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship event here at the Paul Ricard Circuit at Le Castellet, in Provence, South of France in 4th position on row 2. The experienced Italian saved his best lap of the second qualifying session to the very last to go forward into the final Q3 shootout of the top five cars and then drove the Civic of the Castrol World Touring Car Team onto the second row with the 4th fastest time overall. Team-mate Tiago Monteiro secured pole position for Race 2 having finished Q2 in 10th place overall. Norbert Michelisz had to settle for 6th fastest time and will start from the same grid position in both races. Mehdi Bennani will start in 12th position on the grid.

During this morning’s free practice sessions the Honda Civics had steadily improved their times as the engineers and drivers refined suspension settings, tyre pressures and engine management controls. In the cold early morning session Monteiro, Tarquini and Michelisz held  6, 7 and 8th positions but with the constant improvements Tiago was third fastest overall in the second session with Gabriele 7th and Norbert 8th. Mehdi Bennani set his quickest time early in the second session but was unable to improve and had to settle for 13th overall. Whilst these sessions are vital for the team to improve the performance, it is the official qualifying sessions that determine the starting grid for both of the races that comprise the FIA WTCC events.  

With track conditions ideal the four Hondas started the 30 minute Q1 session and showed further improvements over the morning practice sessions. Tarquini set 6th fastest time, Michelisz 7th, Bennani 10th and Monteiro completed the 12 cars that move forward to Q2. The frantic 10 minute session did not enable Mehdi to improve his time in the Proteam Racing Civic to finish with the 12th place time, Tiago settled for 10th fastest time, Norbert 6th and with his final lap of the session Gabriele took 5th fastest for the Q3 shoot out.

Tiago Monteiro was disappointed with his qualifying. “I tried some further adjustments for the sessions from this morning but unfortunately we went the wrong way with the settings. I was having to try too hard but in the end we have a result with pole for race 2. Now we have to settle on the race spec and I must try to secure the result. I just need a nice fast car for the race.”

Daisuke Horiuchi, Large Project Leader for WTCC from Honda R&D has adjusted the throttle response management to accurately match the Ricard Circuit profile. “The drivers like the throttle response to me more aggressive but also give them very precise control as they balance the car through the fast corners. We are running the boost at similar levels to our test session here earlier in the year.”

A smiling Tarquini was full of praise for his team. “The result is a big thank you to all the team who have worked so hard to give me the car to race this weekend. I was very pleased to put on new tyres and then to join the grid. The car is improving all the time and we are really wanting to be the best challenger at the moment and then with more track time we can look for more positions.”

(Provisional) Startgrid Race 1: 1. Sébastien Loeb, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 1’29”527; 2. José Lopez, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 1’29”619; 3. Yvan Muller, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 1’29”857;; 4. Gabriele Tarquini, Honda Civic WTCC 1’30”808; 5. Hugo Valente, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 1’31”139 ; 6. Norbert Michelisz, Honda Civic WTCC 1’30’’751 ; 7. Tom Chilton, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 1’30’’897 ; 8. Dusan Borkovic, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 1’31’’099 ; 9. Gianni Morbidelli, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 1’31’’207 ; 10. Tiago Monteiro, Honda Civic WTCC 1’31”224; 11. Rene Munnich, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 1’31’’345 ; 12. Mehdi Bennani,  Honda Civic WTCC 1’32’’458…