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Tiago Monteiro aiming to reward Japanese fans for Honda

Honda’s Tiago Monteiro says that he is aiming to reward the manufacturers’ Japanese fans as the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) heads to the Suzuka circuit this weekend for the penultimate round of the season.

Honda scored their first win of the season last time out in Shanghai with independent racer Mehdi Bennani, with Monteiro himself finishing second behind the Moroccan. He admits that the result was very important to him with the recent progress Honda has made, despite not being on the top step of the podium himself.

“I cannot comment on the performances of other drivers, but I know that we changed some things after the first race and that the car improved a lot,” explained Monteiro. “It means a lot to come second, and if we look back at this season – in which we’ve successfully caught up with the competition – there are some tweaks that in hindsight we would have made to the car earlier.

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“It’s great that we have got to such a strong position now, and this gives us a lot of confidence for the remaining races.”

For the first time since joining the WTCC calendar in 2011, this weekend’s races will be held on the full Suzuka GP circuit, having previously been staged on the shorter East circuit. Monteiro will be one of the few drivers to have tasted the full circuit from his days in Formula One between 2005 and 2006.

“This layout is exceptional and makes me remember the moments in F1,” added Monteiro. “In competitive terms it should be excellent and I look forward to getting the Honda Civic on track. Regardless of what will happen, I know it will be a weekend of strong emotions.

“You could compare Suzuka with Spa, and that better describes what really awaits us: it is one of the most beautiful race tracks in the world. As a driver you feel you can truly make a difference, and the crowd is always very emotional and enthusiastic!

“I’d like to reward our Japanese fans as well as the entire structure with another podium finish for Honda. I know that will not be easy because although we are better in competitive terms, we also have an added 10kg of ballast. Therefore, it will be harder to do… but it won’t be impossible!”

Monteiro’s team-mate at the works’ JAS team, Gabriele Tarquini, expressed caution considering the extra 10 kg of compensation weight on board the Civics this weekend.

“We will have to take this new handicap into account for Suzuka, but the good result in China really demonstrates that we are making great progress,” said Tarquini. “This shows a lot of promise for the upcoming races, and that makes me very optimistic for the future.”

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