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Gabriele Tarquini: Electrical problem cost us win

Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini has blamed a missed gear shift, caused by a momentary electronic problem, for him finishing second in the final World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) race in Shanghai, behind Citroën’s Yvan Muller.

Tarquini moved into an early lead in the race, after getting past pole-sitter Hugo Valente at the first corner with slight contact.

The Italian then lead the first half of the race ahead of Citroën’s Muller, who had benefitted from the melee at the start to gain a couple of positions.

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Despite managing a comfortable 1.3-second lead early on, Muller closed the gap to his experienced rival and on lap nine passed the Honda exiting the penultimate corner, as Tarquini appeared to lose power momentarily.

“The first race was very frustrating but race two was very tense,” explained Tarquini after finishing second behind Muller. “I could take the start with two new tyres and that was good to make some margin in the first few laps.

“Unfortunately Yvan was close enough to launch an attack, to which I was ready to respond, but an electronic problem created a missed gear shift and I lost the lead because of that.”

Having lost the lead, Tarquini came under intense pressure from reigning champion José María López in the closing laps, but the Civic driver ultimately prevailed to take his best result of the season and score his fourth podium of the year.

“Unfortunately for López my gearbox worked perfectly after that and I could resist until the end. It was a great, very fair fight with Pechito and I hope the public could also enjoy it!”

Honda’s Daisuke Horiuchi was buoyed by the team’s performance, which saw the Civics laen with 40 kg of ballast as a result of their Japanese success, making it the second-heaviest car on the grid.

“Of course qualifying was a disappointment, but our race pace was good,” added Honda’s Large Project Leader for WTCC Development. “Having to run with 40 kg ballast on such a circuit has highlighted some areas on which we definitely can improve, this increases my confidence for the last races of the championship.”

Tarquini and team-mate Tiago Monteiro’s performances were also praised by JAS Motorsport Managing Director Alessandro Mariani, with the latter taking home two points finishes from China.

“We didn’t find the right set up in qualifying but it worked very well in the races,” added Mariani. “I am really proud of all our drivers today they did a great job!”

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