The inaugural WTCC race at the Shanghai International Circuit took place today, and despite a disappointing qualifying session on Saturday, Honda Racing Team JAS were looking to repeat the Civic WTCC’s promising performance shown in its debut race in Suzuka, Japan, last month.
The 13 lap Race 1 got underway at 2:45pm local time in Shanghai and starting from 17th on the grid, Honda driver Tiago Montiero had it all to do. With lots of contact in the first lap, which claimed championship leader Muller, it wouldn’t be easy for the Portuguese driver. But Monteiro, sticking to strategy, avoided all the collisions and shot to 11th. With the circuit’s wide and fast track, perfect for overtaking, the opening laps saw further changes of position, and by lap 3 Tiago had improved his position to 9th. The Civic WTCC climbed further through the field on lap 5, and after battling hard against Swiss driver Barth, took 7th on lap 7. Monterio maintained the top ten position until the chequered flag fell; finishing in the points 30.032 seconds behind Menu, who led Race 1 from lights to flag.
The start of Race 2, at 4:00pm local time, mirrors that of Race 1, with a number of collisions on lap 1 as the pack heads to the first corner. But Monteiro has another clean start and moves up to 11th. The Civic WTCC continues to perform well, allowing Monteiro to make further progress; moving to 9th and into the points on lap 5. A fantastic race then ensues between Brits Boardman in 8th and Turkington in 10th, with Monteiro sandwiched in between. Despite swapping paint with both, Monteiro maintains his position for six laps, but fails to get in front of Boardman who keeps the door shut. There’s disappointment on lap 11 as Turkington makes a move on the Civic WTCC, getting in front of Tiago and pushing him back to 10th. Monteiro continues to battle hard to secure a second top ten finish, but it seems that’s its not to be, with Italian Cirqui coming from behind to take Tiago on the final lap. However luck is on Monteiro’s side. 2nd place Muller receives a thirty second time penalty from the Stewards for hitting team-mate Alain Menu earlier in the race; pushing Muller back to 12th and promoting the Honda Racing Team JAS driver to 10th place.
The final two rounds of the 2012 WTCC will be held at the Circuito da Guia in Macau on the 16 and 18 November.
Driver Tiago Monteiro: "It’s been a very positive weekend. In Race 1 we were given a great opportunity because everybody got very hot and excited. I am very happy with the result. There were some problems during the beginning of the weekend, so we had to try many things. We missed Q2 by a narrow margin, but we knew that we could do something to improve. Again, I’ve learnt a lot about the car and now understand it more, so I am more confident about it. The balance of the car was very good through both of the races. I was able to push and attack and I felt very comfortable with it. I think we’re travelling in the right direction and this has been a very valuable weekend."
Honda Racing Team JAS Team Principal, Alessandro Mariani: "Yesterday, we were not at the top of our potential with some mechanical problems and mistakes. Fortunately today, Tiago did very well in both races. Starting from 17th and recovering positions is not easy, but he was able to stay away from crashes to achieve a very good result. A seventh place after only two races is fantastic. Of course, we still need a lot more experience, testing and work, but we are very proud to have made the top 10 in both races."
Chief Engineer for Civic WTCC Development, Daisuke Horiuchi: "To be honest, I’m delighted by the result of Race 1. I am very satisfied with the fact that we went past ten cars and moved up to seventh. Tiago did a very good job. In Race 2, we dropped a place at the end, which is a little disappointing, but I am happy that we climbed some positions and completed the race in the top ten. I would like to thank Tiago for his effort in the close fights. Regarding the car, in the races, we applied the set-up we had used in Practice 1 yesterday because we thought it provided the best balance, and I think it worked well to get these results. I feel that the car has been improving gradually, but there is still a gap between the top cars and us, so we need to further improve the potential of our car for next year. We will do our best in the last event to help with these preparations."
Sunday, 4 November 2012
Shanghai International Circuit (4,603m)
Track condition: dry
Warm-up session 1:57.473 (17th fastest)
1 Alain Menu Chevrolet Cruze Laps 13 25:12.369
2 Robert Huff Chevrolet Cruze Laps 13 25:13.869
3 Stefano D’Aste BMW Laps 13 25:23.561
4 Tom Coronel BMW Laps 13 25:25.696
5 Gabriele Tarquini Seat Leon Laps 13 25:28.022
6 Tom Boardman Seat Leon Laps 13 25:38.751
7 Tiago Monteiro Honda Civic Laps 13 25:42.401
1 Robert Huff Chevrolet Cruze Laps 13 25:17.714
2 Alain Menu Chevrolet Cruze Laps 13 25:20.412
3 Tom Coronel BMW 320 Laps 13 25:22.092
4 Stefano D’Aste BMW 320 Laps 13 25:22.580
5 Mehdi Bennani BMW 320 Laps 13 25:23.288
6 Gabriele Tarquini Seat Leon Laps 13 25:38.120
7 Colin Turkington Chevrolet Cruze Laps 13 25:42.903
8 Tom Boardman Seat Leon Laps 13 25:44.455
9 Alberto Cerqui BMW 320 Laps 13 25:44.881
10 Tiago Monteiro Honda Civic Laps 13 25:45.056