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Sepang, Malaysia

Conciliatory end to the season for Tiago in Sepang

Sepang, Malaysia, 12-15-2019

Tiago Monteiro was able to get into the points twice on the final weekend of racing in the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) and so celebrate a successful end to the year. On the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, the Portuguese pilot, who is sponsored by Brose, completed the season by finishing 12th and 6th after retiring from the first of three races at the final port of call in the year.

“I’ve ended the year with two solid points finishes in difficult conditions,” was how Tiago summed up the finale in Malaysia, which was impacted by heavy rains, posing big challenges for the drivers. Moreover, the last two races were staged in the dark. Yet the Honda pilot overcame the adverse external circumstances extremely well. “The Honda was very nice to drive in the wet today. The car had the fastest lap in all three races,” said Tiago. In the first race, the Brazilian Honda driver João Paulo de Oliveira promptly set the best mark on his debut in the WTCR, while Esteban Guerrieri (likewise in a Honda) clocked the fastest lap in races two and three.

However, the weekend began with a small disappointment for Tiago. In Friday’s qualifying session, he narrowly missed out on capturing tenth spot due to a mistake on the last bend on his fastest lap – since the order of starting is reversed, that would have meant he could start the second race in pole position. “I got a bit greedy at the last corner and cost myself a spot in Q2,” said Tiago afterwards. In the first race, he then had the bad luck of being involved in a tussle with Nicky Catsburg on the very first lap. His car’s steering arm was bent in the collision with the Hyundai pilot and so he had to pull out of the race.

Races two and three went far better for the ex-Formula 1 driver. First, he fought his way up from 16th on the grid to 12th. In the last race in Sepang, which was also the final one of the season, the 43-year-old even made up ten places overall to cross the line in eighth. However, the stewards gave Mikel Azcona and Gabriele Tarquini a 30-second penalty, with the result that Tiago moved up to sixth. Tiago finished the season in 20th in the drivers’ championship.

The battle for the WTCR title developed into an extremely exciting duel between Esteban Guerrieri, like Tiago in a Honda, and Norbert Michelisz (Hyundai). In the final and deciding race, Guerrieri overtook his rival, who had started in pole position, on the very first corner and then led ahead of Azcona. After Michelisz had dropped back to fourth, Guerrieri was also ahead in the virtual overall standings. However, the Argentinean was punted off the track by Azcona on lap five and his engine began overheating. After two pit stops, he dropped back to 22nd, while Michelisz’ fifth-spot finish was enough for him to capture the title.