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‘Proud’ Gianni Morbidelli reviews first half of 2014

The World Touring Car Championship’s only 2014 non-Citroën race winner, Gianni Morbidelli, admits that he has reason to be “happy and proud” of his season already, as the Italian reviews his progress during the mid-season summer break.

Morbidelli is the only non-Citroën driver to have both secured pole position and won a race thus far in 2014, with his victory in race two at the Hungaroring and pole position at the Salzburgring.

However the Italian has only taken one podium finish in 14 races and is seventh in the championship standings, behind both works’ Honda drivers of Tiago Monteiro and Gabriele Tarquini and ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel.

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Nevertheless, Morbidelli feels that it has been a positive start to the season, which has been aided by the positive atmosphere inside the German team. In particulat, Morbidelli praised team owner René Münnich, who made the Italian’s return to the championship possible after six years away.

“We’re nearly one month removed since the last WTCC race at Spa and with the mid-season mark just behind my back, I can legitimately say that my WTCC comeback season has been made especially good by the feeling that has developed with Münnich Motorsport,” said Morbidelli. “It’s been a pleasant surprise how quickly a good chemistry has become entrenched in our garage.

“It’s been great to work side by side with all those who are part of this team, and first things first, with René, to whom I owe much for what he has done to make possible our agreement for 2014. Ditto for my race engineer Charles Hodge, but all the guys have made me feel at home.”

Photo by FIA WTCC Media

The former Formula 1 driver took some time to get up to speed with his brand new Chevrolet Cruze at the start of the season, only managing two lower top ten points’ finishes in the first four races. Since the first two meetings, Morbidelli has gone on to finish all bar one race in the points, with the exception being the first race in Moscow as a result of a poor qualifying performance.

“We have raised our game together going through the early hard times, but having problems in the initial stages was something you nearly expected, as the decision to start this WTCC programme was taken quite late,” explained the 46-year-old, who then went on to win in the third meeting of the season in Hungary.

“The first seven races are now behind us and we have one win to be proud of. Moreover we were the first to break the Citroën dominance. We also set a pole that would give us the chance to try to beat them again, but unfortunately Austria’s Saturday ended badly for that controversial measure.”

The controversial measure that the Italian speaks of was being denied the opportunity to start from his Salzburg pole position due to having been deemed to have improved his time in Q1 under waved yellow flags. Despite not starting at the front, the Italian had again proved he has the pace to win.

Morbidelli heads into the second ‘half’ of the season feeling proud of his performances in what is only his second season in the WTCC, having first appeared in 2006.

“Let’s say that, if for some odd reason they should call it a WTCC season now, we would still have reason to be happy and proud of what we did,” admits Morbidelli.

“The forthcoming races, first of all in Argentina, will be intense, there will be no time to test and this means that for the rest of the season the French cars are definitely the ones to beat. Our goal then will be to post a few more good results and keep up our fight to prove we’re the best of those who field an RML Cruze.”

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