Tiago Monteiro captured third place in both races on the ninth weekend of racing in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) and so helped his Honda team produce an almost perfect performance on its home track. The Portuguese pilot, who is sponsored by Brose, defended his second place in the overall standings with his two places on the podium in Motegi, Japan.
“This weekend went much better than I could have expected. That goes for me personally and the whole team,” said Tiago. “We knew it would be tough with 80 kg of compensation weight. Yet I was able to improve on my starting position in both races.” In the first race, the 40-year-old captured third place after starting from seventh on the grid, while he moved up one spot to capture a place on the rostrum in the Main Race.
Successful weekend for Honda
It was not only a very successful weekend for Tiago himself, but also for his Honda team. In the Opening Race, all three places on the rostrum were taken by works pilots from the Japanese manufacturers: Norbert Michelisz finished first, Rob Huff second and Monteiro third. The Hungarian Michelisz ensured that a Honda pilot won in Japan for the fourth year in a row. “Today is a fantastic day for Honda,” said a delighted Alessandro Mariani, the team principal. “To have four podiums out of a possible six is better than we could have hoped for. I’m proud of the contribution of everybody in the team.”
Tiago got off to a perfect start again in the first race. Starting from seventh, he immediately attacked the rivals ahead of him and had moved up into fourth by the end of the first lap. He then overtook the Volvo pilot Thed Björk on lap seven to capture his first place on the rostrum on the weekend. Even second would have been possible – he crossed the line just a little over eight tenths of a second behind his teammate Huff.
Tiago defends third spot
Tiago started the Main race from fourth on the grid and again quickly set his sights on capturing a place on the rostrum. After soon overtaking Mehdi Bennani (Citroen) who had started ahead of him, the ex-Formula 1 pilot summoned up all his ability and experience to hold on to this position. Yvan Muller took the checkered flag first ahead of his Citroen teammate Jose-Maria Lopez. Third place was enough for the Argentinean pilot to secure his third drivers’ championship in a row before the end of the season.
“Unfortunately today is the day it was provisionally confirmed that I won’t be champion this year,” said Tiago, alluding to the fact that the two world championship races in Thailand are expected to be canceled soon. That means there are only two weekends of racing and so he is theoretically not able to close the gap of 120 points between him and Lopez. However, Tiago still has the chance of finishing as runner-up and so capturing his best finish in his WTCC career to date. He is currently tied with Muller in second. The tussle for second spot continues in Shanghai on September 25. We wish Tiago every success there.