● Honda Racing Team JAS makes WTCC debut on home soil, with Tiago Monteiro behind the wheel of the Civic WTCC
● The Japanese round of the 2012 WTCC also marks two historic milestones for Honda: the 50th anniversary of Suzuka Circuit, created by Honda founder Soichiro Honda; and the 40th anniversary of the Civic
Honda Racing Team JAS makes its debut in the FIA WTCC this week with a historic race at the Suzuka Circuit, Japan. Honda will enter one car – the Civic WTCC, powered by a bespoke 1.6 litre 4 cylinder direct injection turbo-charged petrol engine – driven by Portuguese driver Tiago Monteiro. Both car and team are fully prepared for the race, having completed testing in Europe this summer and at Sugo circuit in Japan earlier this week.
In addition to this being the debut of a Honda works team in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the race at Suzuka is particularly special for the team as it marks two important milestones: the 50th anniversary of Suzuka Circuit, which was designed by Honda’s founder, Soichiro Honda; and the 40th anniversary of the Civic.
Commenting on the race, Daisuke Horiuchi, the WTCC Development Project Leader at Honda R&D said:
"The entire team has been preparing for Suzuka ever since we announced our entry into the WTCC in February. It has obviously been a huge challenge, but we’re here and we’re ready.
"Part of the drive to get the car and team ready for these last three races of the 2012 WTCC calendar is that this race in Suzuka is so important to Honda. In 1962 our visionary founder Soichiro Honda designed this circuit – the very first racing circuit in Asia – so we were very motivated to make it here and be able to celebrate the 50th anniversary with our many fans and associates around the World.
"2012 is also the 40th anniversary of the Civic, so we couldn’t think of a better way to mark this important milestone than to see the latest European Civic compete at the highest level in the WTCC.
"With these celebrations, this race at Suzuka will certainly be full of emotion for us. And whilst this is the Civic debut in the 2012 championship, with full entry only starting in 2013, I’m sure Tiago and the whole team will put in a performance fit for the occasion."
Tiago Monteiro added: "After testing in Vallelunga, Slovakia Ring and Portimao this summer, as well as at Sugo last week, my motivation has never been higher. And now that we are only a few hours from the start of the event, I can feel the passion and excitement of the Honda fans building up.
"When you think about the amount of work that everyone at Honda and JAS has put in to get us here, I fully appreciate what a privilege it is to be the one behind the wheel. . . it is a very special moment, it really is!"
The road to Suzuka began in February this year when Honda confirmed its entry in the WTCC from 2013 onwards, with a two car works team driven by Italian Gabriele Tarquini and Portuguese Tiago Monteiro.
Starting at Suzuka this week, Honda is also entering the last three races of the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship with one car, driven by Monteiro. All of the 2012 testing and race results will be used to ready the Civic WTCC for full entry in 2013.
J.A.S. Motorsport, Honda’s long term racing partner, has developed the European Honda Civic 5-door for the WTCC, whilst Honda R&D has created the race car’s brand new 1.6 litre petrol engine (the HR412E). Mugen will manufacture the engines and provide trackside support to the team from 2013 season onwards.