The Castrol Honda World Touring Car team heads to the Salzburgring in Austria this weekend, with Gabriele Tarquini admitting that the circuit will “prove a challenge for the team”.
The first four rounds of the 2014 World Touring Car Championship all took place within the space of just one month. Consequently Honda have had little time to work on developing their new TC1 Civic – with Tarquini’s accident at the season-opening round in Marrakech further delaying progress.
The Italian says that the high-speed nature of the upcoming events will provide an additional challenge for his JAS Motorsport team, having only just got used to the car on the tight and twisty circuits used in the season thus far.
“We’ve had our share of technical tracks, now the quick circuits like Salzburg and [Spa] Francorchamps are coming up, which will prove a challenge for the team,” said Tarquini.
“After Budapest we had two days of testing, which allowed us to make some changes to the aerodynamics and the chassis of the car and see whether those changes could be useful. Sometimes they proved to be an improvement, but sometimes it was back to square one. You can’t improve the handling of a car in the blink of an eye. It takes time.”
Tarquini is currently fifth in the championship, behind fourth-placed team-mate Tiago Monteiro. The Portugese admits to feeling frustrated to not have achieved more in 2014, despite being the top driver behind the Citroën trio.
“If you look at the points table and consider the impact that events outside of my control have had, then of course it’s frustrating to not be higher,” admitted Monteiro. “The intervention of the safety car at Paul Ricard and the cancellation of the Slovakian race, where we would have started from pole position, certainly haven’t helped.
“However, what the table does show is that we’re near the frontrunners and have grabbed every chance to score points with both hands, which is really encouraging. That will remain our mission for the upcoming races as well. We cannot underestimate the opposition. The current top three drivers in the Championship make no or few mistakes.”
JAS Motorsport boss Alessandro Mariani adds that the team are finally starting to catch-up with the development of their car, after the hectic opening rounds and rebuild project for Tarquini’s wrecked Marrakech car.
“We have all been working hard to give the testing team the window they need to start working on the new chassis,” explained Mariani. “In fact, you could say that after a very busy and intense first part of the season – four rounds in five weeks – we have at last found that opportunity to develop our car further, which is still very new to us.”
The first test session at the Salzburgring takes place at 13:15 CEST (12:15 BST) on Friday 23 May.