We secured the title with our first win in a long time while we made a strategic engine change (Rd.9 Sonoma Raceway, the USA)
We replaced the engine in Norbert Michelisz's car with a new one for the races at Sonoma Raceway in the USA. There weren't any problems but we had a strategy to check and evaluate the durability and reliability of the engine used since the beginning of the year, for development of next year's engine. I felt a little sorry that Michelisz had to be relegated on the grid in Race 1 because of the engine change regulation, but he understood that we needed to do it for next year. His engine had been used since the season opening so it was the best subject for evaluation. Furthermore, the power of that engine was slightly worsening at that time, so we judged that it was the right timing to replace it before the final few races.
When we examined the engine, we found that the pistons and other parts had deteriorated more than we had expected. We knew that these parts would get worse if used in actual races than in a bench test on a dynamometer, and we were able to collect very useful data for next year through our check at this stage. Also with a fresh engine fitted to his car, Michelisz improved a lot towards the end of the season, so I believe that it was the right time to make the switch.
In Race 2 Gabriele Tarquini achieved his first win since Slovakia. When not able to pick up the pace, he changed his strategy in the middle of the qualifying; going instead for a good start position in Race 2, and it worked. The team didn't make any major changes in the cars for Sonoma, but they were able to secure a car setting that was near perfect as a result of trial and tests in the European rounds. So, this win was a particularly good one because it was partly thanks to that setting. Also this win, and a 3rd place finish from Michelisz, secured Honda's Manufacturers' title there. After the difficult times we'd had, I think that this round left a strong impression of the Civic's recovery.