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Honda pleased with improved pace

Honda’s Tiago Monteiro says that he is ‘pleased’ with Honda’s improved pace in Russia, which allowed him to usurp reigning champion Yvan Muller in the World Touring Car Championship qualifying session.

Portugese racer Montiero had been down in 11th position during Q2 with just three minutes remaining in the session when a late improvement elevated him to fifth fastest.

The late lap dropped Citroën’s Muller to sixth and denied him a place in Q3 for the first time in 2014. Monteiro cites this as further evidence that Honda are closing the gap to the French team, despite carrying an additional 20 kg of compensation weight this weekend for the first time.

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“The team has worked very hard to improve all aspects of the car and the results show this performance increase,” said Monteiro. “I was able to push the reigning Champion out of Q2 and take my place in the shootout which shows we are getting stronger at each race. I am really looking for another podium result from the first race tomorrow.”

JAS Motorsport’s Managing Director Alessandro Mariani says he is proud of his team, after Gabriele Tarquini qualified in second outright and secured his ‘on-merit’ front-row starting position of the season.

“I am really proud of the team today,” said Mariani. “We proved that we are [going] the right way, step-by-step, to enjoy the results. The car is better and has improved a lot.

“We worked during the practice on the set up for the long runs to prepare for the race. It is also a good result for the private team cars to show that the Civic is right on the pace.”

Tarquini says he pushed hard during qualifying, in which he missed out on pole position to José María López by 0.226 seconds.

“It was difficult right at the start of Q1 with the circuit drying but we made the right decision on tyres,” explained Tarquini. “I pushed as hard as possible today and am delighted with the results.

“I have a very good set-up for the races tomorrow and feel confident. We need to check the weather forecast in the morning and it will also depend on the passing chances right after the start.”

Round 11 takes place at 13:15 MST (10:15 BST, 11:15 CEST).

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