WTCC / 12 July 2015

Honda Civics Secure Second & Third Row in ?Busy? Portuguese Qualifying Session

JAS Prepared Civic WTCCs show improved pace with two going into Q3 shootout

In a somewhat disjointed qualifying session on Vila Real’s tricky street circuit – during which two red flags featured across Q1 and Q2 – the JAS Motorsport-prepared Honda Civic WTCCs showed clear progress across the day’s earlier practice session and into qualifying.

Nestor Girolami, running with Honda Racing Team Sweden set the early standards for the Honda quartet, topping the timesheets on his first Q1 run having demonstrated his speed and precision on this complex track.

With fifteen minutes to go debris on track brought the first red flag, at which point all four Hondas were comfortably within the top seven.

Into Q2, Girolami’s supreme confidence was sadly cut short; the Argentine suffering with a puncture, bringing his session to an abrupt end.

The Castrol Honda pairing were both looking good for entry into the Q3 shootout but for Tiago Monteiro the opportunity didn’t materialise - due to traffic ahead he was unable to maintain the pace on his flying lap and as a result, the Porto-resident just missed the top five, posting a P6 time.

Team-mate Gabriele Tarquini took the Civic through into Q3 alongside Zengo’s Norbert Michelisz. By the flag Michelisz’s best time posted him 4th, with Tarquini forced to abort his flying lap owing to a fuel pressure problem – the Italian having just posted a quicker S1 time and looking promising for a front-row challenge.

The final positions mean the Hondas will line up on the second and third rows of the grid – three Civics in the top six - with Girolami regrettably out of position against the car’s obvious potential, starting from 12th for both races.

Gabriele Tarquini (5th/6th) “Traffic was a bit of an issue today with my first and second attempts affected but fortunately I had another set of new tyres. I was within the top 12 but on my last run in Q1 I was a little conservative to be safe. In Q2 I made a small mistake but fortunately it was red flagged so we all returned to the pits. I decided to wait a little before going back out but I was confident I’d have the pace for Q3. I managed a good lap but again traffic was present, although I was able to go P3 and into the shootout. For Q3 the beginning of my lap was good but my car picked up a fuel pressure problem so I had to abort and return to the pits.”

Tiago Monteiro (6th/5th): “The sessions didn’t quite go as expected. I thought I would have the pace to be in Q3, otherwise we would aim for P10. Traffic was a big problem for me so tomorrow will be difficult; it’s not easy to overtake here but I hope to be on the podium so I will try to do a good start and make up the places.”

Norbert Michelisz (4th/7th): “I think we can be satisfied with the result, getting into Q3 and 4th position is as I expected so hopefully we can have a clean race tomorrow and score a podium finish.”

Alessandro Mariani, Managing Director JAS Motorsport: “I hoped we could put three cars in the top five, but unfortunately there was a bit of confusion with traffic on track, which made the last lap very tricky for us in Q2. Fortunately Gabriele was able to take 3rd position, but Tiago was caught up and subsequently unable to progress into the top 5. It should have been possible to challenge Valente, putting Gabriele, Tiago and Norbi into the top five. It’s also a shame for Girolami because before his incident his pace was very good.”

Daisuke Horiuchi, Large Project Leader for WTCC Development at Honda R&D: “The performance has clearly improved due to changes made to car setup and improved engine mapping. We’re still working hard to progress further and to close the gap to our competitors, which I think we can see is reducing but it is unfortunate that we weren’t able to get Tiago into Q3.”

Provisional Qualifying Results:

1          Jose Maria Lopez        Citroën C-Elysée WTCC                      1:58.515
2          Sébastien Loeb            Citroën C-Elysée WTCC                      1:59.090
3          Hugo Valente              Chevrolet RML-Cruze TC1                  1:59.333
4          Norbert Michelisz      Honda Civic WTCC                             2:00.023
5          Gabriele Tarquini       Honda Civic WTCC                             -
6          Tiago Monteiro          Honda Civic WTCC                             -

7          Nicky Catsburg            LADA Vesta                                         -
8          Jaap Van Lagen           LADA Vesta                                         -
9          Yvan Muller                Citroën C-Elysée WTCC                      -
10        Ma Qing Hua              Citroën C-Elysée WTCC                      -
12        Nestor Girolami         Honda Civic WTCC                             -