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Tiago Monteiro can ‘fight head-to-head’ with rivals

Honda’s Tiago Mnoteiro says that changes made by his team at last weekend’s World Touring Car Championship races in Moscow have enabled him to be able to “fight head-to-head” with his rivals.

The Portugese driver qualified in third position for the first race of the day, being beaten only by Citroën’s José María López and Honda team-mate Gabriele Tarquini.

Monteiro knew that he had to make the most of his grid position at the start of the first race, but was unable to improve on his position despite a strong start.

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“I had a good start, but I lightly touched Gabriele Tarquini and I lost a place in the scrum,” explained Monteiro. “Then I tried to regain my position by taking a few risks as I had nothing to lose in the championship. Unfortunately, I went off track and I lost a few places. It could have paid off big, but unfortunately this time, it didn’t.”

Starting from eighth for the second race, Monteiro was up to fifth by the end of the opening lap, which became fourth after early leader Hugo Valente was handed a drive-through penalty.

However the 37-year-old was forced to retire after 11 laps when his Civic lost all power exiting turn eight. The retirement, brought about by electrical problems, was Monteiro’s first of the current season.

“I passed and passed again,” said Monteiro of his second race. “It was a very eventful race and very rough, with a few small collisions. Towards the end, the engine gave out while I was trying to pass in 3rd gear.

“In terms of the championship this weekend, there was no drama. The changes we made enabled us to be more competitive and fight head to head with our rivals. This is the very positive part of this weekend.”

JAS Motorsport Managing Director Alessandro Mariani echoed Monteiro’s comments about the progress his team is making and is confident about the steps to take ahead of Spa-Francorchamps in two weeks’ time.

“We are making progress, which is confirmed by the qualifying and race results,” said Mariani. “Our pace was good and I am pleased for Proteam Racing and Mehdi [Bennani]to get this podium [in race two]. We know what we have to do to prepare for the next event to close the gap to the opposition.”

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