Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro will race for Honda in the World Touring Car Championship, the Japanese manufacturer has announced.
2009 Champion Tarquini and Monteiro will drive the Honda Civic WTCC cars in the 2013 WTCC campaign, with four times race winner Monteiro moving to the team from the Tuenti Racing Team after the maiden WTCC race of America at Sonoma in September.
“I am obviously very excited for this amazing opportunity,” explains the Portuguese racer. “These are tough times in motor sport and there are not many car manufacturers ready to launch factory programmes. To be chosen by Honda is a big boost for my ambitions, because I know they are not playing around but will do everything in the proper way.
“And I’m really happy to team up with Gabriele again. He helped me a lot when I joined SEAT and we get very well together. Especially at the beginning he will be more involved in developing the car, because of his vast experience. However, as I am the one who will drive the car in its first races, I will take over before Suzuka and will have a test of my own in Japan,” concluded the former Formula 1 racer, who took a podium finish in the 2005 US Grand Prix.
For Tarquini, the announcement will see him return to the team which he drove for between 1997 and 2001 in the British, German and European Touring Car Championships.
Tarquini, who has 17 WTCC victories to his name will assist with the development of the Honda Civic before moving to the team ahead of the 2013 campaign.
“I am very proud that Honda called me back to restart together again,” added Tarquini. “I was theirs and the team’s first choice from the beginning, and we have worked together planning all the steps to set the programme up. Honda is one of the most important brands in automotive industry and in motor sport.
“They have achieved countless victories in all the categories. The team is very professional and I know all the people very well from my past years with them. There will be no need for adjustment periods. We start working with a lot of optimism and I believe we have all we need to be competitive straight away,” concluded the Italian.
Before the team enter the series at Suzuka in October, both Tarquini and Monteiro will get to share the car over six test days, with both drivers getting equal amounts of track time before the Portuguese driver has an additional two days before Suzuka.
“There will be three sessions of two days each. Gabriele will start the tests and I will finish them. I will then also drive two additional days in Sugo, Japan, before the first race,” added Monteiro.
“These tests will be of paramount importance. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but essential work that is very interesting for a driver. We have to develop the car starting from scratch, but it is a very rewarding task and I know that beforehand, Honda R&D, JAS Motorsport, Mugen and its technical crew have placed all their tools by their side to prepare a car with strong potential.
“The experience of JAS Motorsport in the WTCC will also play a central role in the whole process. We are aware that the first tests and races might be complicated, but it is a necessary step to prepare well for 2013 and I can’t wait to start this important work,” concluded Monteiro, who also confirmed that he would use his traditional #18 in the JAS Motorsport run Honda Civic.