Race Track / 20 April 2014

Honda take second podium in France with Monteiro third in Race 2

Circuit Paul Ricard - Race 2

Two races and two podium appearances – a positive weekend for the Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team. Tiago Monteiro made a lightning start from the second row of the grid to lead the field into the first corner, closely followed by Mehdi Bennani in the Proteam Racing Honda Civic WTCC. Equally quick off the line was Gabriele Tarquini who cut through the pack to hold 4th place at the end of lap 1. Gabriele moved into third by lap three to form an impressive Honda trio at the front. Tiago had pulled out a three second lead when the safety car slowed the race on lap 8 whilst debris was removed from the circuit.

The Portuguese star was quickly into his stride again as the caution ended, moving away from his pursuers. However another on-track incident required the safety car again almost immediately and once racing resumed Tiago was passed by Lopez and Muller. Monteiro held third position to the finish to earn another podium appearance for Honda with Gabriele shadowing him home in fourth and Bennani showing increasing confidence in a three car battle where he held off Sebastian Loeb and Dusan Borkovic for a well-deserved 5th place.

“I had a very good car for this race,” reported Tiago as he waited for the podium ceremony. “I had a great start especially as it didn’t work so well for me in Race 1. I had built a decent 3 second lead and felt pretty comfortable but then the safety car came out. It was really bad timing for me those two safety car periods. We are certainly improving all the time and I would like to congratulate the whole team for a superb job well done.”

For Tarquini 4th place was another step forward. “Two podiums this weekend really is the maximum of our ambitions presently so it is a very good weekend for us and we have a positive view for the next races.”

Fifth place overall was a great result for Mehdi Bennani but he had to fight all the way. “It was so close racing. At every corner towards the end the others were trying all they could to get past. I just had to take my line and drive my race. I’m pleased to give Honda 5th place here in only our third race in the Civic.”

Norbert Michelisz finished in 8th position making in four Honda Civics in the top 10. “I would have liked to take more points for the weekend but it was not a tragedy. My start was not brilliant and then in the middle of the pack there was so much happening. I had a couple of knocks but overall I am happy with the car and the Zengo Motorsport team did a very good job. We expected a tough start to the season with a brand new car so I am happy to be heading for my home race at Hungaroring with many improvements to the car included.”

Daisuke Horiuchi, Large Project Leader for engine development from Honda R& D was pleased with the results. “The results with two podiums matched my hopes for the cars current position. These are our first podiums of the season. We also collected very good specification data in both wet and dry conditions. The performance of all the cars in both races has shown good progress particularly the driveability from the standing start which was clearly evident in both races.”

For JAS Motorsport Managing Director Alessandro Mariani, these results give the team a sound base to work from. “Our race set-up for race 2 could have got us a victory as Tiago was 6 seconds ahead of the winner when the safety car came out, ruining the advantage. We still have a gap to close to the opposition and we have so many ideas and plans that we need to test and introduce. I am very happy now to have proved that we do have big potential with this Civic. Of course there is lots of work to do. I am really pleased with the drivers who put in super drives and the whole team with all the rebuilding for Gabriele and the race strategies. After a difficult period we are all much happier than we were three days ago. We must remember that this car has just been born and we have to make it grow up as quickly as possible.”

Race 2: 1. Jose-Marie Lopez, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC; 18 laps; 2. Yvan Muller, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 1.886; 3. Tiago Monteiro, Honda Civic WTCC 7.994; 4. Gabriele Tarquini, Honda Civic WTCC 8.459; 5. Mehdi Bennani, Honda Civic WTCC 17.407; 6. Sébastien Loeb, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 17.924; 7 Dusan Borkovic, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 18.592;  8. Norbert Michelisz, Honda Civic WTCC 18.927;; 9. Gianni Morbidelli, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 20.531; 10. Hugo Valente, Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1  21.787;

Driver’s Championship : 1. José Maria Lopez (ARG) 85 ; 2. Sébastien Loeb (FR) 73 ; 3. Yvan Muller (FR) 65; 4. Gabriele Tarquini (I), Hugo Valente (FR) 31 ; 6. Tiago Monteiro (PRT), Tom Chilton (GB) 30; 8. Mehdi Bennani (MAR) 16 ; 9. Dusan Borkovic (SRB) 15 ; 10. Norbert Michelisz (HUN) 14; 11. Mikhael Kozlovskiy (RUS), Rob Huff (GB); Gianni Morbidelli (I) 10 ; 11. Franz Engstler (D) 6 ; etc.

Manufacturer’s Championship : 1. Citroën 186 ; 2. Honda 103 ; 3. LADA 75