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The Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team secured the season’s first podium in the WTCC with Gabriele Tarquini taking a fighting 3rd place in race 2 at a very wet Monza in Italy.
Starting from 5th position for the second race of the event, the experienced Italian made a stunning start to be in second place by the time the grid reached the first chicane. Using the road holding capabilities of the Honda Civic WTCC to the full Tarquini drove around the pole position driver Darryl O’Young to lead the field at the end of the first lap by 1.5 seconds. Race 1 winner Yvan Muller was already cutting through the field from 10th on the grid and he overhauled Gabriele on lap 4.
Tiago Monteiro also made a storming start from 15th position on the grid to move up 4 places on lap 1 and also gain a place on each of the next two laps and to move into 8th place by lap 5 of the 10 lap race.
By lap 6 the number 3 Honda Civic WTCC was under pressure from Michael Nykjaer which took the position on lap 7. Tarquini bravely re-passed around the outside of the Lesmo Curve but Nykjaer squeezed past again at the Ascari complex. With rain still soaking the track Gabriele held on for a close 3rd place to the delight of the Castrol Honda team waving from the pit wall.
Tiago brought his Honda Civic WTCC home safely in 8th place after another strong drive in extremely difficult conditions. “I want to start higher up the grid in future and then we can look to collect more points in the Championship,” said a smiling Monteiro at the finish.
Following the traditional champagne podium Tarquini attended the post-race press conference and was very optimistic for the prospects of further results for the Civic this season. “As we are today some tracks will suit us more than others but for sure we have a lot of development opportunities to come which can see us gaining in performance all the time. It is my first event in the Civic and my first podium which is great. This result is my present to the team, our Japanese Italian team who have worked so hard to get the Civic on the track and competitive. This is for all the team, all the engineers and all the Honda people,” said Tarquini. “We will go to Marrakesh for a new challenge, every year that track seems to have something different, changed kerbs, changed surfaces in paces so it is always difficult but I think the Honda will be good there.”
Tarquini is 3rd in the WTCC Drivers Championship with 28 points, Monteiro is 7th with 14 points and Honda leads the WTCC Manufacturers Championship with 95 points.