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Honda ‘slightly disappointed’ with qualifying

Despite qualifying in eleventh for their first-ever World Touring Car Championship race, Honda were left feeling slightly disappointed, admitting that they felt the top eight was possible.

Tiago Monteiro qualified the new Honda Civic inside the top 12 for its début at the Suzuka East circuit, after originally posting the seventh fastest time in Q1. However the Portugese star used up all of his allocation of tyres in the first part of qualifying, including putting new rubber on to ensure getting through to Q2, leaving him with limited resources to set a strong time in Q2.

“We always knew that it was going to be very tight and difficult in qualifying,” explained Monteiro. “Our objective was to advance to Q2, and for that, we had to use all three sets of new tyres allocated for the qualifying. As a result, we recorded a good time to win a place in Q2. But this compromised the second qualifying session because there were no more new tyres to run on.

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“I think we need to look at it positively, because only a few weeks ago we were not sure if we could even be in Q2. I think we’ve achieved our goals for now, and we’ll keep working and improving. We have two long races tomorrow and we’ll do our best.”

However Alessandro Mariani, the Team Principal of JAS Motorsport who run the Honda team, added that he was slightly disappointed with the result, feeling that the car was capable of more on its début on home soil.

“At the end of qualifying we were a little disappointed because we wanted to be in the top eight,” admitted Mariani. “Unfortunately, qualifying was very tough and Tiago made a small mistake on the first set of tyres. That affected the entire session because we had to use all our allocated tyres to make it to Q2, so we couldn’t be where we wanted to be. However, in a way, this was as it should be, because this was our first qualifying and yesterday we only had a 30-minute run with a set of new tyres. So, with the little experience we’ve had, this is normal. We still believe that the car is good, so I hope to do well tomorrow.”

As a result of only posting the 11th fastest time in Q2, Monteiro will start both of tomorrow’s two WTCC races from this position. The first WTCC race gets underway at 14:35 JST (07:35 CET, 06:35 BST).

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