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WTCC: An accident cost Tiago Monteiro all title hopes

Katar/Losail, 12-01-2017

Tiago Monteiro got off to his best-ever start to a season in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). The Honda pilot, who is sponsored by Brose, was a radiant winner in the very first Main Race of the year in Marrakesh. And at the latest after the sixth out of ten weekends of racing, when Tiago went into the summer break as the leader in the drivers’ championship, the long-coveted world championship title seemed within his grasp. His lead over the closest rival then was twelve points.

However, he then suffered serious injuries in an accident during test drives on the Circuit de Catalunya at the beginning of September when his brakes failed at a speed of 255 km/h at the end of the start-finish straight. The Honda pilot tried to avoid the side barrier, but the car span and smashed violently into the wall with its rear.

He had to be treated for almost two weeks in the intensive station at a hospital in Barcelona before being able to return home to Portugal. Tiago and his team initially assumed that he would be able to drive again by the time of the next race in mid-October. However, his visual problems and strong headaches he suffered as a consequence of the accident made a comeback impossible. He also missed the final three weekends of racing as a result and so was not able to defend his lead in the drivers’ championship.

It was the premature end to a season that could have been Tiago’s most successful in his ten-year career in the World Touring Car Championship. He followed up his opening victory in Marrakesh by finishing third and second on the legendary Italian track of Monza. The ex-Formula 1 pilot celebrated his next win in Budapest just two weeks later. And after coming away empty-handed for the first time this season at the Nürburgring, he struck back with two placements on the rostrum at Vila Real in Portugal. The 41-year-old continued his success story at the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo in Northwestern Argentina. He not only strengthened his grip on the championship, but even stretched his lead by finishing fifth and second.

After the weekend of racing in China, his lost top spot in the overall rankings to the Swedish driver Thed Björk (Volvo), who also secured the title at the season’s last port of call in Qatar. Tiago dropped to eighth in the drivers’ championship, but was beaming with happiness again on the track in Losail. For the first time since his accident, he was back at a WTCC track and, after his teammate Esteban Guerrieri won the race, had the privilege of being presented with the winner’s trophy on the rostrum on behalf of Honda. Tiago now aims to celebrate his own victories on the podium in the coming season. “My goal is to be back in the cockpit next year,” he said before the weekend in Qatar. We wish him all the best in that quest.

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