Last weekend, Tiago Monteiro used the break between two weekends of racing in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) to do something very special for a change. A week after his triumphant win in Moscow, he swapped his Honda Civic for the prototype CLM P1/01 of the ByKolles Racing team and lined up at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was already the fifth time that the Portuguese pilot, who is sponsored by Brose, had taken part in what is probably the world’s most famous car race, which is staged as part of the World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Tiago tackled the great adventure together with GP2 pilot Simon Trummer from Switzerland and the German driver Pierre Kaffer. “I know the challenges and possibilities and feel confident we’ll make the best out of the race,” said the 38-year-old before the start on Saturday afternoon. And he indeed walked the talk. Tiago and his teammates finished third among the private teams in the top LMP1 category.
“Despite all the problems the team never gave up and the drivers kept fighting to the end,” said the ex-Formula 1 pilot. Indeed, the Portuguese/Swiss/German trio had to contend with difficulties from the outset. As early as the second hour of the race, Tiago and his teammates were relegated to the rear of the field due to technical problems. “The team was always able to find a solution to any gremlin we had and gave all us drivers some leeway to make up lost ground and give our best out on the track,” said Tiago.
“A huge satisfaction”
He was also satisfied with his own performance. “I gave my best and in the end we even had the honor of enjoying a place on the rostrum by coming third in our category. After all what happened, that was a huge satisfaction,” said the Portuguese driver, who took part for the first time in this classic long-distance race in the Département of Sarthe back in 1999 at the age of 22. He then lined up again in 2001, 2009, 2011 and this year.
“It’s always a unique experience to race under these very special conditions,” stated Tiago. “I enjoyed myself a lot and every time I was in the car I felt more at home and I was getting a better feel for it. I have to thank Colin Kolles for his invitation and for offering me this great opportunity.” However, he does not have much time to digest these unique experiences: next weekend sees the sixth weekend of racing in the World Touring Car Championship in Slovakia. We wish Tiago every success again there.