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Honda anticipates straight-line speed issues in France

Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini says he is expecting “to be challenged” along the two main straights at the Circuit Paul Ricard, as the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) heads to the south of France this weekend.

Tarquini, who has failed to win a race so far in 2015, believes that the long straights at the Le Castellet circuit will not work to the advantage of his car. The Italian does believe his Civic will be competitive in the twisty sections though – especially as the Honda drivers are on the receiving end of a 20 kg weight break this weekend thanks to the series’ compensation weight system.

“This track is very well known by the WTCC teams and drivers,” said Tarquini. “As well as racing there last year, we completed pre-season testing over the winter. It’s a very safe, very fast circuit and is completely flat.

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“I expect to be challenged along the two long straights but our car should work well with the twisty, more technical lower speed sections this is where we need to take advantage.

“Track temperatures will also make a difference; last year it was the second race of the season but now we’re in the height of summer. Air and track temperatures will of course be considerably higher and tyre degradation is a factor.”

Tarquini’s team-mate Tiago Monteiro struggled last time out in Slovakia, managing just 17th fastest in qualifying and salvaging a pair of top ten finishes in the races.

“We lose a bit of ballast weight for this event which will help us in working around some of the issues we experienced in Slovakia, especially during qualifying,” said Monteiro, who is being cautious about making any predictions for the forthcoming weekend.

“It’s difficult to predict on results; the competition has really picked up across the field. It means we must raise our guard and as always, be ready with maximum attack!

“Our confidence can return to normal now and it is vital to continue working to be able to do better than we did in the first half of the season. The points earned in Slovakia were important, of course, but my goal for the coming races will be to do much better; it is called the podium!

“Personally I am really looking forward to this event. I lived in France for several years having started my racing career there, so I have great memories and good friends there.”

Whilst Honda have lost 20 kg of compensation weight, LADA have gained 20 kg for the first time. Thus the Civic is the second heaviest car on the grid with 40 kg of ballast (behind Citroën on 60 kg), with the LADA and Chevrolet cars the lightest on 20 kg of ballast.

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