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Today saw the final rounds of the 2012 World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), taking place on the Guia Circuit in downtown Macau. The mission for Honda Racing Team JAS was to bring the Civic WTCC's great performance from qualifying into race day. And despite the cloudy sky, the omens looked good from the early morning warm up session, with the Civic WTCC setting the second fastest time (2:31.844).
The formation lap got underway at 11:00am local time, and starting from fifth on the grid and with the car's promising pace, Honda Racing Team JAS driver Tiago Monteiro was in a confident mood. He got off to a great start. On the opening lap of the nine lap race, Tiago managed to clear the difficult Lisboa Bend in fifth to remain in the top group. He then edged passed the car in front on Lap 2 to climb to fourth. He continued his charge, breathing down the neck of the car in third. On Lap 4 an accident caused one of the front-runners to drop a position, allowing Tiago to move up. Over the next few laps Monteiro kept up the chase and a three-way fight for the lead continued until the end. Monteiro held his place, crossing the line in 3rd and delivering the first podium place for the Civic WTCC in just its third outing.
Following technical problems to a car in front, Monteiro was promoted from fifth to sixth on the grid in Race 2. He kept his place on the opening lap from a standing start. However, the position was short-lived. At Lisboa Bend on Lap 3 Monteiro was overtaken by two cars, dropping him to seventh. When the safety car came out on Lap 4 due to an accident in front, the Civic WTCC was running in sixth. The race finally resumed, however the drama continued; two front-runners crashed on the very first lap at Lisboa Bend. With the safety car again leading the field, the race ended after 11 laps and the Civic WTCC came home in fourth.
Driver Tiago Monteiro: "In Race 1 I had a good start and was able to overtake the car in front in the early stages of the race. From that moment, I pushed very hard to get an opportunity to pass the Chevrolets but it wasn't possible. I am very happy to get on the podium in the end though. Race 2 was a bit more difficult at the start and the race in Macau is long and many things can happen, so it was important just to finish. The entire team deserves this amazing end of the season on the podium. They've worked very hard and this is the result of team work."
Honda Racing Team JAS Team Principal, Alessandro Mariani: "Of course we are very happy with the podium finish, but from my point of view, our greatest achievement this weekend was finishing so close to the works Chevrolet cars. After only two races and fighting for the lead - this is a fantastic result! But whilst the car clearly has strong potential for 2013, we're still learning, so we'll work even harder to prepare it for next season."
Chief Engineer for Civic WTCC Development, Daisuke Horiuchi: "I am very happy to get such a great result - third place on the podium. And what makes it even more special was that we were able to fight so closely with the regular leaders, the Chevrolets. Step by step we have improved the car's set-up to the point where we get this excellent result in the final round of the season. It's very gratifying as I feel that the effort of the driver and all the team members has been paid off. I have got a positive feeling for next year, but at the same time realise that this is just the beginning of a tough road before our full WTCC entry in 2013."
Date: Sunday, 18 November 2012
Location: Guia Circuit, Macau (6.12km)
Temperature: 20 degrees
Track condition: Dry
Warm-up session 2:31.844 (2nd fastest)
1 Yvan Muller Chevrolet Cruze 9 laps 23:08.977
2 Alain Menu Chevrolet Cruze 9 laps 23:09.892
3 Tiago Monteiro Honda Civic WTCC 9 laps 23:10.274
4 Gabriele Tarquini SEAT Leon 9 laps 23:10.944
5 Darryl O'Young Chevrolet Cruze 9 laps 23:20.496
6 Tom Coronel BMW 320 9 laps 24:04.113
1 Alain Menu Chevrolet Cruze 11 laps 35:36.096
2 Robert Huff Chevrolet Cruze 11 laps 35:36.416
3 Yvan Muller Chevrolet Cruze 11 laps 35:36.985
4 Tiago Monteiro Honda Civic WTCC 11 laps 35:45.111
5 Darryl O'Young Chevrolet Cruze 11 laps 35:45.882
6 Franz Engstler BMW 320 11 laps 35:46.223
(According to the regulation, which stipulates that the first two Safety Car laps completed will not count towards the race distance, this race was run over 11 laps.)