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Honda ‘still need to improve’ despite win

Honda’s Project Leader for World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) development Daisuke Horiuchi admits that the manufacturer “still needs to improve” despite Gabriele Tarquini’s win in the second race at Suzuka.

Tarquini scored the manufacturer’s second win of the season on home soil at Suzuka, benefitting from the reverse-grid pole position to take his first win of the season and the second for Honda, after Proteam Racing’s Mehdi Bennani also won in race two in China.

However Daisuke Horiuchi, Honda WTCC Large Project Leader, admits that the manufacturer still needs to improve – especially as the win did not come off the back of strong pace in qualifying or race one. Additionally, a poor qualifying performance for Tiago Monteiro saw him start both races from 11th which limited his progress to just two ninth place finishes on Sunday.

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“I am of course very happy with the win which does compensate for our disappointment after qualifying,” said Horiuchi. “Like in Shanghai, the race pace showed the improvements we have made on the engine and on the chassis, but we still need to improve. We know which areas we have to work on to be fully competitive in the future.

“I am very pleased with Gabriele’s and Norbi’s [Michelisz] podium places for our many Honda fans and for the whole Honda team.”

Tarquini scored his 20th WTCC victory in race two and explained after the race that he was confident with the Civic’s race pace, which is stronger than its single-lap pace.

“I am really pleased with my result,” said Tarquini. “This was my chance to win and I took it. In order to win the race I knew I had to get away from the pack to quickly create a gap which I could do.

“I was confident because we know the Civic has good race pace. It is never easy but I could control the pace and manage the gap right to the end.

“It is very important for Honda at their home track and not having an Italian race this year I now think this is my home event! I am really, really happy.”

Honda have yet to topple Citroën’s dominance in qualifying or race one this season, where the true pace of the cars is at its most obvious. All four Honda cars were more than a second off the pace of the French manufacturer’s cars in qualifying on Saturday. J.A.S. Motorsport Managing Director Alessandro Mariani drew attention to this following the Suzuka weekend.

“We know that over the length of a race we have competitive pace,” said Mariani. “We have to improve our performance over the single lap which is the vital element for good qualifying positions. Especially Tiago [Monteiro] lost out this weekend as he had to start both races from 11th position which makes it very hard.”

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