Tiago Monteiro apologises for Opening Race contact with team-mate

Tiago Monteiro apologises for Opening Race contact with team-mate

Tiago Monteiro
Photo: Alexandre Guillaumot / DPPI

Tiago Monteiro apologised to Honda team-mate Norbert Michelisz for the race-ending contact in the opening World Touring Car Championship race in Argentina, calling it a ‘racing incident’.

Monteiro knocked into team-mate Michelisz on the first lap of the Opening Race on Sunday, which caused the Hungarian to pick up a front-left puncture on his Honda and ruined his race.

Michelisz then led home Monteiro for a Honda 1-2 in the Main Race, with the Portuguese driver later apologising for the incident which he claims he was helpless to prevent.

“The first lap of the Opening Race was definitely rough,” explained Monteiro, who went on to finish in fifth. “I was hit from behind, locked my wheels trying to avoid some cars and unfortunately I hit my team-mate.

“He actually saved me because if he wasn’t there I would have gone straight on. I’m sorry for that obviously but it was really a racing incident. That time I had some luck on my side for sure.

“During the race it was a matter of trying to push as hard as possible. I had the steering wheel completely offset [after the contact] and it was a tricky one but we needed to score some points and we just needed to survive.

“We changed a few things on the car going to the grid and there was an issue with the braking system. As you can see as soon as I touched the brakes there was nothing and I just went straight.

“I was lucky it was a long run off in that place. If it was in Vila Real my race was over. Again this is racing. We only have 15 minutes to change whatever we can and sometimes these things can happen. In the end I was quite lucky.”

Commenting on his second place finish in the Main Race, the Portuguese driver stressed the importance of continuing to pick up strong points, after early leader and championship challenger Nicky Catsburg picked up yet another puncture ahead of him.

With Monteiro having endured a disastrous weekend in Germany two months’ ago, he added that it was Catsburg’s turn to have the misfortune this weekend.

“In the Main Race, the two of us did very similar starts so it was very difficult to gain advantage,” said Monteiro of Michelisz’s getaway. “But we pushed really hard, with Nicky leading obviously. I tried my best to be close in case an opportunity arose.

“In the end we did a one-two, good points for the championship. Twelve points is nothing but it’s better to be in front race-by-race.

“We still have eight races and four weekends [to go] so there are still a lot of things that can go wrong. I had a really awful weekend at the Nordschleife, Nicky had a bad one this weekend so you really need to take advantage of everything that comes to you.

“This championship is so tight and six or seven drivers can still win the championship so every point will be important. Whether it’s MAC3 or Q3 or the races.”