Tiago Monteiro and Gabriele Tarquini were upbeat about the pace of their upgraded Honda Civics after the World Touring Car Championship’s visit to Hungary, despite the latter enduring a weekend to forget.
The weekend started auspiciously for the JAS Motorsport-run outfit, as the pair finished both of Saturday morning’s wet practice sessions in second and third with revised front ends seemingly bearing fruit immediately.
But as the track dried ahead of qualifying, a crash for Tarquini after running wide onto a damp patch ruined his chances of fighting at the front as he was forced to start both of Sunday’s races from the rear of the field.
Despite that setback, two top-five finishes for Monteiro and a fastest lap for Tarquini, coupled with a race two victory for the identical Honda of Norbert Michelisz in front of his home crowd, made for encouraging reading at the end of the weekend with the pair fourth and eighth in the drivers’ championship respectively.
Tarquini admitted that the two races had been frustrating – the Italian having failed to score points over the course of a weekend for the first time since the opening round of the 2014 season – but felt it had been important for him to rack up more track time as the team continues to learn about its upgrades.
“The starting position was not very good for a track like this, especially the first start, nothing happened,” he said. “I was surprised by the delay between red and green so I didn’t get a really good start. I tried to overtake in the first few laps but it was quite impossible. I was faster than Coronel and Huff but I couldn’t make a pass.
“For the second race I decided to take a risk on my line. I had a really good start but the car in front of me moved across, pushing me totally off track so I was on the grass, slipping. I tried to overtake and passed Bennani but I saw my water temperature was very high so I pitted to clean the air duct and obviously that was the race done. But I went back out to test the new aero package because we can collect more good data.”
Monteiro meanwhile was satisfied with his weekend’s work, but urged his team to continue to push with developments having resisted the Citroen trio of Sebastien Loeb, Jose Maria Lopez and Yvan Muller for fourth in race two.
“It was definitely a positive two races,” said the Portuguese. “When I saw the Citroen’s behind me I thought this will be interesting, but I just kept my focus on pushing Chilton ahead. He was just a little bit too fast in order to really attack him but I was able to push and keep the Citroen’s behind.
“The car was very well balanced in both races, we improved a lot with a better setup today. I wish I had this car yesterday! But we still have to keep working and fighting. Well done to everyone, the improvements were definitely a good step forward, but let’s keep working to gain further.”