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Honda expects ‘enormous challenge’ in Morocco

Honda duo Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro are expecting an ‘enormous challenge’ to avoid damage this weekend, as the World Touring Car Championship season kicks off in Marrakech.

With the street circuit in Morocco kicking off the WTCC season for the first time, and the second event following just one week later in France, many teams are being extra cautious this weekend not to incur damage so early on in the season.

Former World Champion Tarquini, who ended Friday’s test session as the tenth fastest driver, knows all too well the dangers of the high-speed, chicane-ridden Marrakech street circuit.

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“Two long straights, fast and dangerous chicanes, tight hairpins, walls bordering the circuit and high kerbstones… these are the elements that make this street race an enormous challenge,” says Tarquini, who won in Morocco in 2010. “But I know the 4.5 km long track very well, which is a major advantage. So after a long winter of hard work, new rules and completely new cars, the time for action has come. Soon we will know where we stand and what ambitions we can nourish.”

Portugese driver Monteiro says that he is mindful of avoiding damage ahead of the second round of the championship at Circuit Paul Ricard next weekend.

“Because of the busy schedule coming up, we can only hope that our cars don’t suffer too much damage in Marrakech,” added Monteiro. “We have to be very careful not to get involved in any incidents, which isn’t easy on the quick street circuit.

“It will be a very interesting first test against the new cars and new drivers though. For the Moroccan fans it will also be a fantastic event and the look of the new cars in the FIA WTCC will only add to the excitement already provided by this amazing championship.”

Monteiro finished Friday’s test session as the top Honda driver in fifth, some 1.9 seconds slower than the pace-setting Citroën trio.

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