WTCC World Touring Car Championship 2017
Honda driver Tiago Monteiro doubled his lead of the 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship with a hard-fought double podium finish at Monza in Italy.
The Portuguese driver charged from ninth on the reversed-grid Opening Race to an impressive third place, his Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team Civic showing impressive straightline speed throughout.
He then added a second-place finish in the Main Race to increase his series advantage from seven points to 15 and score the 40th podium of his WTCC career.
Tiago’s team-mate Norbert Michelisz made a sensational start from fifth on the Opening Race grid to climb into the top three and was challenging for the lead by one-third distance.
Unfortunately for the Hungarian, his race ended thanks to a poorly-executed defense of the lead by Mehdi Bennani at Parabolica, which resulted in significant damage to Norbert’s left-rear suspension and a left-front puncture, caused by an immediate trip into the gravel.
Norbert’s mechanics worked tirelessly during Repair Time to fix his car in time for the Main Race, and he rewarded them with a deserved sixth-placed finish, which put him fourth in the Drivers’ points and kept Honda within a handful of points of the WTCC Manufacturers’ Championship lead.
Fellow factory driver Ryo Michigami was less fortunate. He failed to start the Opening Race after due to a misfire on the formation lap, and suffered a similar issue early in the Main Race, despite the sterling efforts of his engineers to get the Japanese driver onto the grid.
“To score two podiums and increase my championship lead at a track like Monza is pretty amazing. We’ve never been that strong on high-speed circuits like this, but the latest evolution of the car is fantastic and this is a huge motivating factor for everybody because it shows we can be competitive everywhere. After we had such pace in the Opening Race, I was confident I could win the Main Race, but I made a small mistake coming out of the Ascari chicane and Thed [Bjork] was able to pass me.”
“I’m pleased for the team and for Tiago for scoring two very good results, but bitterly disappointed about my own race day. I made a great start in the Opening Race, cleanly made it up to second and would have won quite easily if Mehdi hadn’t turned in on me at Parabolica. That cost me the race. The team did a wonderful job to repair the car for the Main Race, but the damage Mehdi did to my car gave me a poor balance and issues with the steering and brakes. A sixth place was not representative of my speed today.”
“It’s quite disappointing to leave Monza without scoring a point, especially after we showed strong pace in practice. I had a misfire and wasn’t able to start the Opening Race. The team did a great job to get me out in the Main Race, but again we weren’t able to make the finish because of a similar issue. Without this, I’m sure I could have easily finished in the points in both races, because the straightline speed and the balance in the corners was very good.”
Alessandro Mariani - Castrol Honda WTCC Team Principal
“It’s been a mixed day for the team. On the one hand, I’m very happy for Tiago; he’s shown tremendous speed and scored two podiums and big points to increase his championship lead. But I’m frustrated for Norbi, because I’m sure he was going to win the Opening Race before [Mehdi] Bennani hit him, and I’m also disappointed for Ryo, who had some technical issues that we must work hard to avoid happening again.”
Ryuichi Furukawa -
Large Project Leader WTCC Development, Honda R&D
“A tough day because the pace we showed in both races meant we thought we could get at least one win. I think we would have won the Opening Race with Norbi, but for his incident with Bennani and Tiago was also very close in the Main Race. Ryo had top-10 pace too, but had some unfortunate technical issues, which we will go away and analyze ahead of the next race in Hungary. We have still managed to score good points at a circuit we’ve never done very well at before, so it’s OK.”
|1||Tom CHILTON (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)|
|2||Rob HUFF (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)|
|3||Tiago MONTEIRO (Honda Civic WTCC)|
|4||Thed BJORK (Volvo S60 WTCC)|
|5||Esteban GUERRIERI(Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)|
|6||Tom CORONEL (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)|
|10||Daniel NAGY (Honda Civic WTCC)|
|12||Norbert MICHELISZ (Honda Civic WTCC)|
|15||Ryo MICHIGAMI (Honda Civic WTCC)|
|16||Aurelien PANIS (Honda Civic WTCC)|
|1||Thed BJORK (Volvo S60 WTCC)|
|2||Tiago MONTEIRO (Honda Civic WTCC)|
|3||Rob HUFF (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)|
|4||Nicky CATSBURG (Volvo S60 WTCC)|
|5||Nestor GIROLAMI(Volvo S60 WTCC)|
|6||Norbert MICHELISZ (Honda Civic WTCC)|
|12||Aurelien PANIS (Honda Civic WTCC)|
|14||Daniel NAGY (Honda Civic WTCC)|
|16||Ryo MICHIGAMI (Honda Civic WTCC)|