After a very wet weekend at the Slovakia Ring earlier this month, the FIA WTCC heads West this week, stopping at Austria and the Salzburgring, for the fifth round of the 2014 Championship.
Despite the rain, it was a good race weekend for Norbert Michelisz in Slovakia, who took third in Race 1 behind the wheel of his Zengo̎ Motorsport-Civic WTCC. It also provided Tiago Monteiro of the Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team, who currently stands fourth in the Drivers’ Championship, with a moment to reflect on the season so far.
“If you look at the points table and consider the impact that events outside of my control have had, then of course it’s frustrating to not be higher,"says the Portuguese driver after the first four rounds of the 2014 FIA WTCC.
“The intervention of the safety car at Paul Ricard and the cancellation of the Slovakian race, where we would have started from pole position, certainly haven’t helped. However, what the table does show is that we’re near the frontrunners and have grabbed every chance to score points with both hands, which is really encouraging. That will remain our mission for the upcoming races as well. We cannot underestimate the opposition. The current top three drivers in the Championship make no or few mistakes.”
The 4 km short Salzburgring is situated in a narrow green valley some 15 km from the historical town Salzburg. The circuit has the reputation of being very quick, with two long and sloping straights.
“We’ve had our share of technical tracks, now the quick circuits like Salzburg and Francorchamps are coming up, which will prove a challenge for the team,” states Gabriele Tarquini. “After Budapest we had two days of testing, which allowed us to make some changes to the aerodynamics and the chassis of the car and see whether those changes could be useful. Sometimes they proved to be an improvement, but sometimes it was back to square one. You can’t improve the handling of a car in the blink of an eye. It takes time.”
And finding the right time has proven a real challenge for the Civic WTCC engineers; the chassis originally assigned to the testing team for development was taken to replace the one involved in Tarquini’s crash in Marrakech.
“We have all been working hard to give the testing team the window they need to start working on the new chassis,"explains Alessandro Mariani, Managing Director of J.A.S. Motorsport. “In fact, you could say that after a very busy and intense first part of the season – four rounds in five weeks – we have at last found that opportunity to develop our car further, which is still very new to us.”