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Vila Real

Tiago celebrates emotional win on his home turf in Vila Real

Vila Real, 07-07-2019

A huge triumph for Tiago Monteiro in the World Touring Car Cup! On the sixth weekend of racing in the WTCR, the Portuguese pilot, who is sponsored by Brose, captured his first win in this series in front of his home crowd. It was also his first victory since his serious accident in a test drive in Barcelona just under two years ago, in which he suffered serious head and neck injuries. The win in the third race was all the more emotional for the 42-year-old since it was on a track just around 100 kilometers from his native city of Porto.

“It felt incredible to be up there on the podium for the first time in the WTCR and get my first win since my accident,” said Tiago. Yet it initially did not look like the ex-Formula 1 pilot would chalk up this big success: It was not him, but his KCMG teammate Attila Tassi who started from pole position in the final race at Vila Real. However, Tiago was second on the grid.

The local hero benefited from some bad luck on the part of his young teammate on the third lap, when Tassi had to retire due to a spark plug problem. Tiago capitalized on that to move into the lead. The Honda pilot then went on to take a commanding victory on the street circuit in the north of Portugal, crossing the line two seconds ahead of the French driver Yvan Muller in second. Tiago’s last win in a touring car world championship was on the Hungaroring near Budapest in mid-May 2017, when the series was still called the WTCC.

Tiago: “A very special moment”

“I’d have been happy with a podium in this race behind Attila, but then he had bad luck. Someone was obviously watching over me here,” said Tiago, who also chalked up the first-ever WTCR victory for an Asian team. “There were so many doubts about whether I’d be able to come back after my injuries,” said Tiago, recalling the tough period of convalescence after his accident. “So today is a very special moment. The effort from everybody involved in this KCMG project has been incredible and the support from the fans here in Portugal has been amazing,” said Tiago.

It was the successful climax to a weekend that had not begun at all well for him. He launched a big effort to catch up in the first race on the Saturday to move up from 15th into tenth, but then his hopes of finishing among the points were abruptly dashed by Gabriele Tarquini in a Hyundai. “A spot in the top ten was within our grasp during the race,” said Tiago. “But then Gabriele literally shot through the chicane and I couldn’t get out of his way.” Although Tiago was able to continue the race, he dropped back to 23rd.

The second race on the Sunday afternoon went better for him and he took the flag in tenth. Yet that was only to be a small foretaste of the triumph he was able to celebrate a few hours later. Going into the next weekend of racing in China – which is not until mid-September – Tiago was able to pick up 35 points in Vila Real and more than double his tally to 58. However, the joy at his win was marred by the sudden death of a young mechanic in Vila Real. Tiago dedicated his victory to him.