Race Track / 27 April 2013



Honda Civics hold the top three positions for the starting grid for Race 1 in the third event of the World Touring Car Championship taking place at the Slovakia Ring circuit having dominated the official qualifying sessions. Gabriele Tarquini set a stunning pole position time of 2m10.773s, just 1 tenth of a second ahead of Castrol Honda teammate Tiago Monteiro. Completing the Honda Civic line-up at the front of the grid will be the Civic entered by Zengo Motorsport for Hungarian race-star Norbert Michelisz.  

“This is like a dream for me with Honda Civics in first, second and third positions. It is a very good feeling for me, Tiago and Norbert but especially for the team. After Marrakesh we had so much work to do I honestly worried that we would not be in such a strong position here in Slovakia. But I really discovered a fantastic car this morning and after I tried a new set of tyres in Free Practice I knew we could be in with a chance of setting a good time. I saved a fresh set of Yokohama tyres for Q2 and I had a clear road so I set the time without any slipstream help. It is the best place to start the race and we really will work to make certain Honda takes the first race victory since joining the WTCC this year,” said a delighted Tarquini at the Pole Position press conference.  

Tiago Monteiro was also a very happy race driver: “After two very difficult events it is a miracle to be here with second fastest. My thanks to the JAS team for building a completely new racing Civic for me after the Marrakesh accident. The car felt really good from the start and with the adjustments we made during the tests I was right on the pace. I did get some slipstream pull from Gabriele in Q2 but I got a bit greedy in the last corner and slowed just a bit but to have three Hondas leading the grid is fantastic for the whole team. I realise I am fighting against the best driver in the world but Gabriele and I are professionals and we know how important the result is for Honda.”  

Norbert Michelisz was not at all happy this morning having had little track time with the Zengo Motosport Honda but after a few laps he was confident of a top 10 position. “For us it is a new car, a new season and therefore a new start. I am really pleased that it worked so well for qualifying and I am third fastest. My aim is to get two clean races tomorrow and I can’t wait for next week’s Hungaroring event which of course is my home track and I hope many thousands of my fans will come to the circuit to cheer us. It will be great to show how fast the Honda is there as well.”  

Daisuke Horiuchi, Large Project Leader for WTCC Development from Honda R & D in Japan reports on the plans. “Our strategy is to work to improve step by step for every race. We saw the engine data after Marrakesh and decided that we needed to change the exhaust system to improve the flow of the exhaust from the cylinders. This allows us to use a more aggressive ignition timing which delivers more power. We have also improved the turbocharger anti-lag settings. We are happy with this progress but we will keep working to be able to fight for wins.”   

The impressive Slovakia Ring, just 60 kilometres south-east of Bratislava, hosts the third round of the 2013 World Touring Car Championship. At 5.922metres in length, the Slovakia Ring is one of the longest tracks visited by the WTCC in the series. This is the second annual visit by the competitors in the WTCC, last year’s event attracting 70,000 enthusiastic spectators.  

Following the sweet and sour results experienced by the Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team in Marrakesh, two gleaming Honda Civic WTCC race cars emerged from the trucks when the JAS Motorsport team arrived here in Slovakia yesterday. A totally new chassis had been assembled in record time to replace the heavily damaged car of Tiago Monteiro. The chassis of the Tarquini Civic had major repairs carried out to the rear part of the chassis following the second race accident in Marrakesh.  

Team Principal Alessandro Mariani is full of praise for his team. “The mechanics arrived home to Italy on the Monday after the Marrakesh race and immediately started to prepare the spare chassis that we had at the workshop. When the cars arrived back from Africa we had to strip them right down, make the repairs to Gabriele’s chassis, paint and assemble the cars and then get a shakedown done before travelling to Slovakia. It has been a fantastic effort by my team. And of course we have been bringing new developments into the cars at the same time. All the while we are wanting to be better and faster. We hope this race weekend is more calm than the very busy meetings so far.  But we must also think ahead for the next race at Hungaroring next weekend.”  

Gabriele Tarquini arrived at Slovakia Ring feeling “cool” having taken podium places at the first two events of the season and also having been the first WTCC winner on this circuit last year.

Tiago Monteiro was looking forward to what he hoped would be a more “normal” race weekend.

“We want decent weather, a challenging track and time to set up the new chassis properly. The shakedown was just a few kilometres so we know the car works but there will be a lot of tuning to do before we are ready for qualifying and the race,” said the Portguese star on arrival. Both Honda drivers looked splendid in their new OMP race suits with the latest design featuring Honda, Castrol and Brose. 

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