Round 08 Japan

  • Monteiro Leads All-Honda Top Three in Suzuka WTCR Qualifying

    Tiago Monteiro and KCMG led a sensational all-Honda one-two-three in Suzuka qualifying as he claimed his first WTCR – FIA World Touring car Cup pole position in Japan.


Report

Monteiro Leads All-Honda Top Three in Suzuka WTCR Qualifying

Suzuka Circuit, Japan, Oct 25, 2019

Tiago Monteiro and KCMG led a sensational all-Honda one-two-three in Suzuka qualifying as he claimed his first WTCR – FIA World Touring car Cup pole position in Japan.

The Portuguese driver, who made an emotional comeback from injury at Honda’s home circuit last year, marked the one-year anniversary of his return with an incredible performance in his Civic Type R TCR.

Finding increasing speed in an ultra-wet first qualifying session, the Vila Real race winner claimed the top spot by just over a tenth of a second from fellow Honda Racing driver Esteban Guerrieri to take the team’s second pole of 2019 and Honda’s fifth.

In damp conditions in the later session, he showed yet more of his earlier form as the Portuguese ace put his car second for Sunday’s third race and ninth on Race Two’s partially-reversed grid.

Team-mate Attila Tassi had just set the fourth-best time of the opening session when he spun off at Turn 2. For bringing out the red flags, his best time, which would have been enough for a top-five spot, was deleted and he starts 24th instead.

He made amends in the later session to put himself 11th on the starting grid for each of Sunday’s race.

Wildcard entrant Jim Ka To, racing a third KCMG car, adapted superbly to the conditions, despite having never driven on WTCR’s Yokohama wet tires.

He qualified 21st in both sessions; impressively missing a spot in Q2 by less than two tenths of a second in the latter session.

ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri, who lies second in the championship, enjoyed a strong day as he  maximized the handling of the Civic Type R TCR in the wet opening session to qualify second for Saturday’s race.

After running off the track at the final corner during Q2 later on and clipping the tire barrier, he was indebted to the sensational work of the Münnich mechanics, who repaired

His car in just minutes, which enabled him to rejoin the track with 90 seconds remaining.

A stunning lap promoted him from 12th to third, putting him into Q3 and allowing him to qualify fourth; a result that means the gap between Esteban and the series leader has been cut from 15 points at the start of the day to just nine.

Team-mate Bebu Girolami was equally fast in the wet conditions to complete the all-Honda sweep of the top three positions.

Unfortunately for the Argentinian, however, a technical issue at the end of Q2 prevented him from taking to the track when conditions were at their best and meant he could not improve on 11th place for both of Sunday’s races.

Worse still, the issue means that his engine will need to be changed overnight; putting him to the back of the grid for Race One.

One race takes place tomorrow with a double-header on Sunday.

Comments

Tiago Monteiro | KCMG

“It’s a great day for KCMG, for Honda and for myself. We were competitive from the get-go and have kept it up. I like this track and the Honda likes the conditions too, so I felt comfortable right away. The conditions were tricky, but the car did exactly what I wanted. It’s hard to keep your concentration in a 90-minute session with all the stoppages, but I pushed hard and tried to get the best out of it. I’m so happy with pole and a front-row start. Today was a very important day. Things were either going to go very right or very wrong, so I’m glad it was the former. It’s impossible to know what will happen tomorrow, but we’re focused on a good result.”

Attila Tassi | KCMG

“Today was a tough day. In the wet conditions, the speed was very good from the Honda, but the circuit was very tricky, plus it’s my first time here. I was fourth when I went off and had my time disallowed because of the red flag, but I’m sure I would have been in the top five. In the second qualifying, I only missed the reversed-grid pole by two tenths, but 12th is not a bad place to start. I’m going to use Saturday’s race as a test for Sunday so that we can make sure the car is 100 percent right.”

Jim Ka To | KC Motorgroup

“Today was a good day, despite the very difficult conditions. I’d never driven on the Yokohama wet tires before, so practice was a big learning experience and by Q1 we were going okay. I think we made a step forwards for second qualifying, because although I start 21st, I only missed a spot in Q2 by less than two tenths of a second. It’s been tough to get used to this situation, but we’ve done a good job as a team. Tomorrow my target is to finish in the top 15 and I think that’s quite achievable from where I start. That would make me very happy.”

Esteban Guerrieri | ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport

“It’s been a very intense day with all the rain and the changeable conditions and I have to say a big thank you to the mechanics for sorting the car in Q2 after I went off. We made a good performance and I’m very happy to be a part of a Honda one-two-three at their home circuit. We can score good points for the championship this weekend; we already have, in fact, with the bonuses for qualifying. It’s great to represent Honda in Japan and I hope to win tomorrow.”

Nestor Girolami | ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport

“Today’s been good in terms of performance, just not in terms of luck. The Civic’s had good speed in the wet and in the damp, so that’s encouraging for the rest of the weekend if we have these kinds of conditions again. Unfortunately we’ve had a technical problem at the end of Q2, which has not only put me 11th for both of Sunday’s races, but means we also have to change the engine, so we’ll go to the back for Race One. This isn’t great for the Teams’ Championship, but it just means Sunday will be even more important to score whatever points we can.”

Dario d’Esposito | Team Principal, KCMG

“It’s been a very good day and an emotional one too. One year ago, I was here as Tiago made his comeback from injury and 12 months later we’ve had a dream result as he’s taken his first pole position in WTCR. To follow it up with second for Race Three shows we’re right on the pace. Attila had some hard luck today, but his pace was good, considering this is his first time here. He deserved more than he got. In the wet, his time was fast enough for the top five, and in Q2 he was only 0.2 seconds away from the reversed-grid pole. Jim did a good job too; 0.2 seconds off a Q2 spot and on his first time competing at such a high level. He can do a good job tomorrow too.”

Dominik Greiner | Team Manager, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport

“Once again it’s been a very tricky day with the weather, but our cars have been very fast in the wet and the semi-wet and our drivers have done a very good job to qualify where they did. I say it a lot, but our mechanics deserve every bit of praise for their incredibly fast work to repair Esteban’s car and get him back on-track in Q2 after he touched the barrier. We have the most fantastic spirit and resilience and that’s helped us close the gap in the Teams’ and Drivers’ Championships today. Tomorrow is going to be very important.”

Mads Fischer | TCR Project Leader, JAS Motorsport

“It’s been a very good day for our customer teams in WTCR and also in the supporting TCR Japan series, where the Civic Type R TCR scored another pole position. I’m delighted for Tiago to be on pole, and for the ALL-INKL team they’ve scored some crucial points for the championship. Their guys never gave up when Esteban went off in Q2; their spirit was incredible. Tomorrow we naturally hope for a victory at Honda’s home circuit.”

Results

FIA World Touring Car Cup 2019
Round 08: Japan

Qualifying1

Rank Driver (Machine)
1 Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic TCR)
2 Esteban Guerrieri (Honda Civic TCR)
3 Nestor Girolami (Honda Civic TCR)
4 Niels Langeveld (Audi RS3 LMS)
5 Frederic Vervisch (Audi RS3 LMS)
6 Gabriele Tarquini (Hyundai i30 N TCR)
23 Attila Tassi (Honda Civic TCR)
29 Jim Ka To (Honda Civic TCR)

Qualifying2

Rank Driver (Machine)
1 Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR)
2 Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic TCR)
3 Mikel Azcona (Cupra TCR)
4 Esteban Guerrieri (Honda Civic TCR)
5 Andy Priaulx (Lynk & Co 03 TCR)
6 Thed Björk (Lynk & Co 03 TCR)
11 Attila Tassi (Honda Civic TCR)
12 Nestor Girolami (Honda Civic TCR)
21 Jim Ka To (Honda Civic TCR)

Photos