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Honda duo anticipating unpredictable Marrakech

Honda’s World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) duo Tiago Monteiro and Gabriele Tarquini are expecting an ‘unpredictable’ two races around the Marrakech street circuit this weekend.

The team head to the North African country having claimed a brace of solid points finishes in the season opener in Argentina, including a first podium of the season for Monteiro. The start to the season is already better than in 2014, when the Moroccan circuit started the season.

For Italian Tarquini, this weekend’s race meeting could not be any worse than in 2014, when he failed to start either race having been harpooned by the Chevrolet of Gianni Morbidelli in practice.

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“Marrakech is quite a strange track,” admitted Tarquini. “It’s the ultimate driving challenge – difficult, dangerous with such close proximity to the walls and no escape routes, so one small mistake and you pay very hard.

“Unfortunately I don’t have good memories from last year so I am keen to improve and avoid any drama.”

Tarquini emphasised the importance of qualifying well around the tight circuit, with the first race often featuring limited overtaking manoeuvres.

“Qualifying well is important here as overtaking can be very difficult, so expect to see teams slipstreaming during the session to extract the best top speed. Realistically I think we can target the podium but as we know from previous races here, anything can happen.”

Monteiro expressed caution about the likely performance of the Honda Civics, with the Portuguese racer not expecting the venue to suit the characteristics of the car, despite working on set-up during testing in Portimão three weeks’ ago.

“Since returning from Argentina the team has been working hard with a three-day test in the Algarve, during which we were able to work on set up for this weekend,” said Monteiro. “Marrakech is a very special place. The circuit is incredibly challenging with very long straights and really only two proper corners, with plenty of high-speed kerbs. It’s very hard on brakes so strategy wise, the best way to approach the weekend is to go slightly conservative, building confidence on familiarisation with the track over the sessions.

“It’s difficult to forecast results because it can be so unpredictable and, whilst it is perhaps not our strongest of tracks, the Civic has undergone various improvements and upgrades over the previous year so we should be in competitive shape.”

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