Tiago Monteiro had to contend with all sorts of adversities on the penultimate weekend of racing in the World Touring Car Cup, but was at least able to get among the points in the first race in Macao. “We had a very good pace the whole weekend,” was Tiago’s verdict after the three races in the Asian gaming capital. However, a chaotic second qualifying on the narrow city circuit proved his undoing.
The Portuguese pilot, who is sponsored by Brose, achieved a good 15th spot in qualifying for the first race on the Saturday. However, he fell back a number of places shortly after the start. “A lot of cars drove tightly behind each other on one side of the track on the long straight after the Mandarin bend and I was on the other side – without any slipstream. I then lost four or five positions there,” was how Tiago analyzed the start of the first race.
At one stage, the ex-Formula 1 pilot dropped out of the points as a result. However, a number of incidents in the pack helped him move up a bit again and so he crossed the line in 15th to pick up one point. “In terms of pace, we have a car that can certainly get into the top ten,” said Tiago: “But because of what happened to us in qualifying, we were unfortunately not able to benefit from our speed in the race.”
Tiago was particularly annoyed by the circumstances in the second qualifying on the Friday, when a true deluge of yellow and red flags meant he was unable to clock a single decent lap time. Instead of vying for tenth spot, which would have given him pole position in the second race, the 43-year-old had to be content with 26th. “We weren’t able to produce a fast lap, due the fact that there were yellow flags and accidents everywhere,” said an irritated Tiago. “We had a decent pace and believed we had a chance to be in contention for pole position with the order of starting reversed.”
However, he had to begin the second and third races from almost right at the back of the grid as a result – and from there it was just about impossible to finish among the top 15 and so get into the points. Yet in particular at the start of the second race, Tiago demonstrated in his Honda Civic what could have been possible if he had been able to start among the leading pack. “I overtook five or six cars right at the start and had some good and fair tussles for position” said Tiago.
As a result, he was able to move up from 26th to take the checkered flag in 18th in the second race. Tiago also improved a few positions in the final race to cross the line in 19th. The season’s tenth and final weekend of racing will be held in Sepang from December 13 to 15. If Tiago is spared any bad luck there, he might well achieve the one or other top finish.