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Civic WTCC claims fifth in qualifying for the 2012 Macau WTCC

The Honda Civic WTCC competes in the final rounds of this year’s World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) this weekend – the Macau Grand Prix – and Honda Racing Team JAS, whose 2012 WTCC journey only began a month ago in Suzuka, Japan, is looking to end on a high.

The famous Guia Circuit, in downtown Macau, is a challenging course. Held on public roads, it features a mixture of fast coastal sections and technical narrow track, high in the mountains.

Having adjusted the setting of their Civic for Macau, the team delivered great lap times in the free practice sessions – achieving second and fifth fastest – so were looking for a repeat performance in qualifying.

Q1 started 30 minutes behind schedule at 3:55pm local time. But once given the green light, Civic WTCC driver Tiago Monteiro immediately went onto the track and posted a blistering lap of 2:32.085 – putting himself in fourth position. On his second attempt, he went one better, recording a time of 2:31.366 and moving up to third. Pleased with the result, Monteiro returned to the pits to save tyres. With his position unchallenged, he remained in the pits, finishing Q1 in third.

Q2 got underway at 4:40pm local time, but the Civic WTCC driver had to abort his first two attempts. But despite the early frustration, Monteiro went on to record the tenth (2:32.627) and then fifth (2:31.539) fastest lap before the end of the session.
The combined results meant Monteiro ended the qualifying session in fifth – the team’s best result in qualifiers. Tiago will now start from fifth place in Race 1 and sixth place in Race 2, where the first ten cars in the qualifying will be placed in reverse order on the grid. Starting from a good position in the third row in both races, the Civic driver will be aiming to climb up through the field.

Race 1 will start at 11:05am (03.05 GMT) and Race 2 at 12:20pm (04.20 GMT) on Sunday, 18 November and will be broadcast live on the Eurosport network.

Driver Tiago Monteiro: "Q1 was quite good. I was in a group following other cars, so I had a very good tow. But then I had to overtake the car in front, which lost me a bit of time. The the lap was still really good though. So after that we pitted to save tyres, and watched the situation unfold. Overall, the balance of the car was excellent and I’m really happy with it. So in Q2 I went out on new tyres, but with no change to the car. I made a mistake in the first corner and let two cars pass me, so I aborted the first lap. And when I tried again, I was caught behind other cars so had to abort a second lap, which was frustrating. In my next attempt, I touched a tyre barrier but fortunately didn’t lose any time so it ended up being quite a good lap. Overall, I must say that it was a very good result and it’s great to be able to fight for the top five in just our third appearance. Regarding the races, anything can happen in Macau, but it’s better to start from the first three rows here, so I’m very happy about this. My goal is to simply to finish in order to get as much information as possible and keep working. And of course, we would like to get as close to the podium as possible."

Honda Racing Team JAS Team Principal, Alessandro Mariani: "First of all, I would like to thank everyone in the team and engineers at Honda because the car has been working very well this weekend. On the first lap yesterday, I could see that the Civic WTCC had great potential. Even though I didn’t expect too much because Macau is a very tricky circuit, I am a little bit disappointed because Tiago was caught up with traffic on the laps where he was running on new tyres. If we’d had some more luck, we would have been able to take third. But we were able to prove that we’ve been improving a lot, so I am very satisfied."

Chief Engineer for Civic WTCC Development, Daisuke Horiuchi: "We were aiming for third in Q2 and he fought back to fifth, so that was very good. We’ve changed the drivability of the engine and the balance of the car since Shanghai and it worked. Little by little, the balance during the free practice sessions got better too, and as a result, the potential of the car improved a lot. I am happy that we have taken the car in the right direction. We have managed to reach a level where we can compete against top cars, which has been our objective. Taking advantage of the qualifying result, we will aim to move up the positions. Indeed, we hope to achieve our best result in the final races of the season."

Friday, 16 November 2012 

The Guia Circuit (6.12km)  Weather: cloudy  

Track condition: dry

Free Practice 1 2:32.033 (2nd fastest)      

Free Practice 2      2:32.995 (5th fastest)

Qualifying (Q1)

1 Robert Huff Chevrolet Cruze     2:30.903

2 Yvan Muller Chevrolet Cruze     2:30.950

3 Tiago Monteiro Honda Civic WTCC 2:31.366

4 Alain Menu Chevrolet Cruze     2:31.490

5 Gabriele Tarquini SEAT Leon       2:31.868

6 Darryl O’Young Chevrolet Cruze     2:32.066

Qualifying (Q2)

1 Robert Huff Chevrolet Cruze     2:29.422

2 Yvan Muller Chevrolet Cruze     2:30.144

3 Alain Menu Chevrolet Cruze     2:30.488

4 Gabriele Tarquini SEAT Leon      2:30.936

5 Tiago Monteiro Honda Civic WTCC 2:31.539

6 Darryl O’Young Chevrolet Cruze     2:31.643

Bucuresti, 17.11.2012

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