In the final race in this year’s World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in Macao, Tiago Monteiro was just kilometers away from crowning his magnificent season with a victory. The Honda pilot, who is sponsored by Brose, looked like the certain winner on the legendary Guia Circuit up to the penultimate lap, but then suffered a mechanical problem and had to surrender the lead. Finally, he was not able to finish the race. Instead of celebrating a deserved victory, Tiago had to be satisfied with twelve points for coming fourth in the first race on the city circuit.
In the first race, the ex-Formula 1 pilot started from seventh on the grid. Yet shortly after the start, Tiago was able to overtake the French driver Yvan Muller in a Citroen and Chevrolet pilot Tom Coronel, meaning he had already moved up to fifth on the first lap. He gained another place a little later when he benefited from an unsuccessful attempt by ex-rally champion Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) to overtake Norbert Michelisz in the Lisboa Bend. Whereas the Hungarian, who like Tiago was in a Honda, was able to defend his second spot, Loeb fell back to sixth. The race was won by Jose-Maria Lopez (Citroen), who had already clinched the world championship title, ahead of the three Honda pilots Michelisz, Gabriele Tarquini and Monteiro.
Fantastic maneuver at the start
Tiago demonstrated his incredible skills at the start in the second race. Beginning the race from fourth, he overtook the pilots ahead of him over the very first yards to snatch the lead. He continuously built his lead as a race went on to two seconds by lap eight. Even after the subsequent safety car phase as a result of an accident by the Chinese pilot Qing-Hua Ma, Tiago was able to hold on to his lead.
However, his dreams were then dashed by a technical defect. He first lost the lead and then had to retire shortly afterwards. Rob Huff captured victory in a Lada. “I’m disappointed of course,” said Tiago. “After this magnificent start and leading the race for eight laps, victory was so close. The fight between Huff and Muller behind me helped me maintain the gap. But after the safety car with just one more lap to go, I noticed my car was overheating and I couldn’t steer it decently. After that I just couldn’t maintain the pace and my position.”
The technical defect not only ended up costing Tiago victory in Macao, but also fourth place in the driver’s championship, which he had held since the third weekend of racing in Hungary. Even though his hopes of winning were dashed in the end, he can still look back on a successful season in the WTCC. After winning a spot on a podium five times, he has come fifth in the driver’s championship and so beat his previous best finish from 2010. Our warmest congratulations go to him. And we wish him every success for the next season.