Tiago Monteiro remains on the track to success in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). After winning the Main Race in the season opener on the street circuit in Marrakesh, the Honda pilot, who is sponsored by Brose, captured a place on the rostrum in both races on the second weekend of the competition in Monza. Third spot in the Opening Race and second in the Main Race mean Tiago has not only defended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship, but even stretched it. After four out of 20 races, the Portuguese driver has a 13-point lead over his nearest pursuer, Thed Björk from Sweden.
“Finishing on the rostrum twice on a track like Monza and so extending my lead in the championship is fantastic,” said the delighted ex-Formula 1 pilot. “We’ve never been so fast on such high-speed circuits. It’s magnificent how the car is coming along at the moment. That’s a great motivation for all of us. Because now we know we can compete on all tracks.”
Monteiro surges from ninth to third:
Like three weeks ago in Morocco, Tiago laid the foundation for success in qualifying on the legendary Italian track. Only the Volvo pilot Björk clocked a faster time than Monteiro on the Saturday. That meant Tiago started the Opening Race from ninth on the grid, since the ten fastest pilots in qualifying line up in reverse order in that race. No sooner were the start lights out than Tiago launched a furious effort to move up the field and ended up crossing the line in third.
The only rivals the 40-year-old driver from Portugal was not able to overtake were the two British pilots Tom Chilton, who won the race, and Rob Huff. However, the race went unluckily for Tiago’s Honda teammate Norbert Michelisz. The Hungarian started from fifth on the grid and had made so much headway by the third lap that he was involved in a thrilling duel for the lead with Mehdi Bennani. When he tried to pass the Moroccan before the Parabolica and was level with him entering the bend, Bennani forced him off the track and into the gravel. The damage to his car was so serious that Michelisz was not able to finish the race.
Tiago keeps Huff in check:
Tiago began the Main Race in second and was even able to take the lead after a few meters. However, he only held on to it until the second lap when Björk, who had started in pole position, overtook him again. Monteiro then commandingly held off the attacks of his former teammate Huff to cross the line in second.
“After being so quick in the Opening Race, I’d hoped we could win the Main Race,” said Tiago. “But I made a small mistake coming out of the Ascari chicane and so Thed was able to pass me.” Michelisz finished the Main Race in sixth and Ryo Michigami, the third Honda works pilot, had to withdraw with a technical problem. Tiago now travels again as the leader in the Drivers’ Championship to the next weekend of racing on the Hungaroring in two weeks’ time. We wish him every success in the two races on May 14.