Although Tiago Monteiro failed to capture a place on the winner’s rostrum at the Hungaroring, he was nevertheless able to celebrate two very good finishes. On the third weekend of racing in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), the Portuguese driver, who is sponsored by Brose, came fifth and fourth. As a result, Tiago has moved up from fifth to fourth in the drivers’ championship and is still the best Honda pilot. “They were definitely two positive races,” was the verdict of the 38-year-old, whose team had fitted his car with a number of updates going into the weekend in Hungary.
Monteiro demonstrated that the work had been worthwhile right at the start of the first race. Starting from sixth on the grid, the ex-Formula 1 pilot overtook Sebastien Loeb (Citröen), who has a record number of rally world championship titles to his name, with a resolute maneuver on the first lap. He then set about chasing Qing Hua Ma, likewise in a Citröen, and was able to keep on cutting the gap between him and the Chinese driver. In the end, he finished less than half a second behind fourth in the race, which was won by the Argentinean Jose Maria Lopez (Citröen).
Monteiro keeps Citröen pilots in check
In the second race, Tiago was again able to move up one spot shortly after the start, but this time he benefited from a collision between Ma and Rob Huff (Lada). From then on, he waged a two-front battle in his Honda Civic: He set his sights on Max Chilton (Chevrolet) ahead of him and so on the chance of capturing a place on the winner’s rostrum, yet also had to defend fourth place against the Citröen armada that was drawing ever closer. “When I saw the Citroens behind me I thought ‘This will be interesting,’” said Tiago. “However, I just kept focused on putting Chilton under pressure. But he was just a little bit too fast to really attack.”
He crossed the line almost a second behind the British driver, but was able to hold on to fourth with a gap of more than one second over Loeb. Like three years ago, the Hungarian local hero Norbert Michelisz captured victory. “I’m very happy of course for Norbi,” said Tiago and congratulated his fellow Honda pilot on his wildly feted triumph in front of his enthusiastic fellow compatriots.
However, Monteiro came away positive about the weekend: “The car was very well balanced in both races. We improved a lot with the new setup. Well done to everyone. We’ve definitely taken a considerable step forward, but we need to keep on working hard to get close to the top cars.” He and his team have the chance to do that in just under two weeks. The WTCC will make its debut on the legendary North Loop course of the Nürburgring. We wish Tiago every success at this event, one of the season’s absolute highlights.