Castrol Honda World Touring car Team Principal Alessandro Mariani admits that he still has “many ideas and plans to test and introduce” for Honda to close the gap to WTCC leaders Citroën.
Mariani, who is the Managing Director of the JAS Motorsport operation which runs the works’ Honda cars in the championship, also believes that the team could have taken victory in race two at Paul Ricard, due to having chosen a solid set-up for early leader Tiago Monteiro’s car.
“Our race set-up for race two could have got us a victory as Tiago was six seconds ahead of the winner when the safety car came out, ruining the advantage,” explained Mariani, who is confident of further progress with the new Civic.
“We still have a gap to close to the opposition and we have so many ideas and plans that we need to test and introduce. I am very happy now to have proved that we do have big potential with this Civic. Of course there is lots of work to do.”
Mariani also praised the drive of Gabriele Tarquini, who took a third and fourth place finish to move into the position of the best non-Citroën driver in the championship standings, despite not starting either of the two races in Marrakech.
“I am really pleased with the drivers who put in super drives and the whole team with all the rebuilding for Gabriele and the race strategies,” added Mariani. “After a difficult period we are all much happier than we were three days ago. We must remember that this car has just been born and we have to make it grow up as quickly as possible.”
Daisuke Horiuchi, project leader of Honda’s engine development for the WTCC, was pleased with the data collected over the weekend and was in particular pleased to see the Honda cars making strong starts, particularly in the hands of Monteiro in race two.
“The results with two podiums matched my hopes for the cars current position,” said Horiuchi. “These are our first podiums of the season. We also collected very good specification data in both wet and dry conditions. The performance of all the cars in both races has shown good progress particularly the driveability from the standing start which was clearly evident in both races.”
Lead driver Tarquini admitted that to come away with two podiums, one for himself and one for team-mate Monteiro, is the most the team could have hoped for at this stage in the season.
“Two podiums this weekend really is the maximum of our ambitions presently so it is a very good weekend for us and we have a positive view for the next races,” added Tarquini.
The next round of the WTCC takes place in Hungary between the 2nd and 4th May.