The World Touring Car Championship (WTCR) race weekend in Pau-Arnos, France, was a rollercoaster ride for Tiago Monteiro. After qualifying in tenth place and thus missing pole position for the first race by a hair's breadth, the Portuguese initially had to cope with a retirement including a damaged vehicle on Sunday. The second race didn't quite go to his expectations either, but he still managed to finish in the points.
Only three hundredths of a second had been missing in qualifying to achieve tenth place. That would have been so important because it would have meant pole position for the Honda driver in the first race, which is partly started in reverse order of the qualifying result. "We fought for tenth place and I also thought that would have been feasible. To have missed out on this position by such a narrow margin is tough," said Tiago after qualifying.
Tiago then had to painfully experience what a difference these three hundredths of a second can actually make in the first race. If he'd started from the very front, he could have had a free run, but from his grid position he was involved in tough position battles right from the start. He had a very good start and quickly found himself fighting for eighth place. But then, on the first lap before entering the hairpin, he was hit so hard by a competitor that he went off the track and hit the barrier.
He was able to get out of his car uninjured. But the race was over for him before it could really begin. The impact broke the right rear suspension of his Honda Civic. "Unfortunately, I got hit in the first run and hit the wall," Tiago said. "I thought that was it for the rest of the weekend. But the team and the mechanics did a fantastic job. They managed to fix the car in a very short time. A big thank you for that."
In fact, his crew managed to get the car ready to drive again literally at the very last second, so Tiago was then able to tackle the second race after all. Once again, he got off to a good start and quickly moved up into the top ten from eleventh place. However, he was not spared any trouble this time either. In the middle of the race, he dropped back a few places before he was able to work his way back to the front and finish in twelfth place. The reward for this strong fighting performance is four points in the overall standings.
"The second race was okay," said the 45-year-old. "I had a good start and was in the top ten before I was touched by a car again. That was annoying because I lost three positions as a result and it's not easy to overtake here. But the car felt good, at least we were still able to score a few points."
The next race weekend is on the agenda in three weeks. For the races in Italy we wish Tiago good luck!