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Honda hails ‘perfect’ China 1-2-3 finish

Honda celebrated its second 1-2-3 finish of the World Touring Car Championship season in China, as Tiago Monteiro led home Gabriele Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz in a race which Honda WTCC Project Leader Daisuke Horiuchi hailed as a ‘perfect race’.

Having qualified in ninth and tenth on Saturday, works Honda drivers Tarquini and Monteiro would line up in second and first respectively for the final race of the day. Both drivers were faultless in the race, with Monteiro leading every lap for his first win since 2010 and Tarquini following him home across the line.

Michelisz made it the perfect race for Honda, with the Zengő Motorsport driver getting the jump on Rob Huff at the start of the race to move into third, and ensure an all-Honda podium lock-out.

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“Once again we have showed that even with full ballast and difficult track for us we can deliver the results,” said Horiuchi. “The race pace was perfect, the engine and chassis worked superbly and I am especially proud of the team strategy and the drivers teamwork. This result shows total professional performance in the operation.”

Monteiro admitted that the race was more difficult than it looked, with the Portugese driver on the limit throughout due to the pressure from his experienced team-mate behind.

“That is an amazing result for me and Honda with my team-mates too,” said Monteiro about his first win for Honda. “Everytime we race we improve and this is a great reward for the whole team. It may have looked quite simple but that was as hard a race as I’ve had. From the very first metre off the line it was like a qualifying lap every lap. I really wanted this win.

“I said before this weekend that I hoped for a win before the end of the season but maybe I didn’t expect it here before the event started. But everything worked just great, my luck seems to have changed for the better recently.

“I want to thank everybody for making this happen, I’m proud to be part of this great Honda project. I dedicate this win to my mother who is recovering from recent health problems,” added Monteiro.

Tarquini scored Honda’s first win of the season back in Slovakia, where he headed Monteiro and Michelisz. This time the experienced Italian admitted that Monteiro had the edge over him, with Tarquini unable to pass Monteiro with a characteristically strong start.

“Without question I had to give maximum attack from the start,” admitted Tarquini. “But I have to recognise that Tiago made a fantastic race and he had the edge over me today. It was a fantastic race for us and I’m so happy for this second Honda hat-trick.”

Hungarian Michelisz continued his run of strong form in 2013 with his seventh podium finish of the season – more than he managed in all of his previous years in the WTCC combined.

“That was a dream race really,” said Michelisz. “I never thought I could get this result in Shanghai. I knew that I must overtake right at the start and then there was a heavy fight going on behind me so I had to concentrate all the way.

“I had to use some different lines and really work the brakes and tyres hard. There was little grip left on the last laps but I got home with a great result.”

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