Tiago Monteiro was the radiant victor on the seventh weekend of racing in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). In front of his home crowd in Vila Real, the Portuguese pilot, who is sponsored by Brose, won the Main Race and was overjoyed afterwards. “That was an incredible day for me, one I’ll keep in my memory and heart for the rest of my life,” said the delighted Honda pilot. “Winning a world championship race in front of your own fans is an indescribable feeling for me. I’ve never before experienced such jubilation on the rostrum.” The local hero was even feted with loud chanting.
Just 100 kilometers from Porto, the city where he was born, Tiago clinched the ninth win of his WTCC career and the second this season. As a result, he has moved up from fourth into second in the overall standings and is now the closest pursuer to the leader in the drivers’ championship, Jose-Maria Lopez (Citroen). The ex-Formula 1 pilot laid the foundation for his magnificent win in qualifying, where he secured pole position more than a tenth of the second ahead of his nearest rival. “I wasn’t the fastest driver today, but I made the fewest mistakes,” said Monteiro after qualifying on Saturday. “You saw that a lot of mistakes were made. I wasn’t particularly optimistic as regards my time. It was a good lap, but not a perfect one, as I also made a number of small mistakes.”
Commanding start-to-finish win
However, his start in the Main Race was flawless. Starting from pole position, he defended his lead going into the first bend – the first and decisive step to victory. That is because it is very difficult to overtake on the narrow city circuit in Vila Real. “The key to my win today was the start. I focused on getting out of the blocks as well as possible. After all, 90 percent of the race is decided in the first few seconds. I had a good start and was then able to control the race,” said Tiago, who celebrates his 40th birthday in four weeks. The Honda team could also be satisfied all in all with the outcome of the Main Race. Runner-up Yvan Muller (Citroen), who was not able to launch a single attack against Tiago throughout the race, was followed by Norbert Michelisz in third and Rob Huff in fourth.
In the Opening Race, Tiago experienced at first hand that it is virtually impossible to overtake on this track. Since the top ten pilots in qualifying start this race in reverse order, he was only tenth on the grid. He held on to that position to pick up one world championship point. Just two pilots made managed to pick up places in the course of the race. They included Tiago’s teammate Huff, who overtook Thed Björk (Volvo) in the chicane on the penultimate lap and so moved up from seventh to sixth. Michelisz crossed the line in eighth. The Opening Race was won by Tom Coronel (Chevrolet).
After 14 out of the 24 races in the season, Monteiro is 101 points behind Lopez. However, he still does not intend to write off his dream of winning the World Touring Car Championship. “We’re now second overall. Even though we’re a long way behind first place, we’ll never give up,” said Tiago. Now he can enjoy a deserved summer break before chasing championship points again in Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina, on August 7. We wish him lots of success.
You can find a video with impressions of the race and the winners’ ceremony here .