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Honda ready for triple home entry

The Castrol Honda World Touring Car team head to their home race at Suzuka in Japan this weekend with high hopes, as they prepare to field an additional car for Takuya Izawa alongside regular drivers Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro.

The JAS Motorsport-run team made their works’ Honda début at the circuit in 2012, and since then have gone on to take two victories in 2013, courtesy of Tarquini. With the most recent win having come in the previous event in the United States, confidence levels are high within the team heading into this weekend’s race.

Tarquini, who finished on the podium in the second race at Suzuka in 2012, thinks the shorter ‘Suzuka East’ circuit will suit the team’s S2000-spec Civic.

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“I have raced many times there; the big circuit is just great for a driver but the short circuit will suit the Civic better,” said Tarquini. “It is something like the Sonoma characteristics with lots of direction changes, flowing corners and not too long straights. Our good acceleration and traction out of the corners will be useful. It will be important to get a top qualifying time as overtaking will be difficult there.”

Portugese racer Monteiro made the début for the Honda Civic world touring car at Suzuka in 2012. Consequently he is confident ahead of the meeting, as it is the first time that Honda have previous data to use in a race weekend.

“When we arrived in Suzuka last year we had only run the car for minutes prior to air freighting it to Japan,” explained Monteiro. “It was a pressure moment with high expectations for the first race. The car worked well from the outset and getting top ten results was a great reward for the frantic work everyone had put in up to that moment. Now we return with the Championship title ours, but we want to take more victories before the end of the season.

“This will be the first race where we have data from last year so it will be interesting to see how we have progressed. Of course the car is quite different but it will be nice to compare. It will be a busy time with lots of PR and media work. I feel confident that we are right on the pace now and can challenge for the victory.”

Monteiro also welcomed the addition of a third car for Izawa, taking the total number of Honda’s at the event to four with the Independent Zengő Motorsport car of Norbert Michelisz also present.

“I have known Takuya for several years and I know he is very young and very fast with lots of experience at the circuit so maybe he can give us a few tricks,” added Monteiro.

Izawa, who races in the hugely popular Japanese Super GT Championship, is looking to use the experience this weekend to learn from his more experienced team-mates.

“I am excited to join the Honda team, as well as compete with all the world-class WTCC drivers at Suzuka,” said the 29 year-old. “I am certain that this experience will help me to further accelerate my career! I would imagine that getting top results will be difficult at such a high level racing series, but competing in a touring car on a circuit that I grew up with is a new adventure for me.”

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