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Honda blames poor qualifying for ‘mixed’ Qatar races

Honda was left lamenting poor qualifying form in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) season finale in Qatar, with the team securing just three top ten finishes as a result.

Gabriele Tarquini suffered the most in qualifying at the Losail International Circuit on Friday, putting his Civic in 14th on the grid for both of Friday evening’s races.

Tiago Monteiro fared little better, with 11th fastest in Q2 meaning he just missed out on the reverse grid pole and was also forced to start outside the top ten for the final two races of the season.

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To make matters worse for Tarquini he was hit at the opening corner of race one by Münnich Motorsport’s Stefano D’Aste, leaving him at the tail of the field and to finish the race down in 15th position.

Race two saw the Italian able to climb up to seventh, finishing even ahead of team-mate Tiago Monteiro after a determined drive from the former champion.

“In the first race I had contact in turn one and went off,” explained Tarquini. “After that I tried to re-join the group but I was last. I fought a little bit with Nasser [Saleh Al-Attiyah] and Grégoire [Demoustier] but it wasn’t possible to progress any further after that.

“Race two was a little better but I had contact with an accident in front of me in turn three. Luckily my car wasn’t damaged and afterwards I had a good fight with Nicolas [Lapierre].

“The car was quite good; much better than qualifying and yesterday. But unfortunately I started further down the grid than I’d have liked and always that makes it harder to fight for the front.”

Meanwhile Monteiro summarised his event as ‘mixed’, having finished eighth and ninth in the two races respectively.

“It’s been a mixed event here, much like the whole season,” said Monteiro. “We’ve had some bad luck, such as in Vila Real or Paul Ricard. “Sometimes things haven’t worked out, then the next time they have; it’s racing.

“Qualifying wasn’t as we’d planned but we managed to take points in both races which is important.

“Overall we’ve shown progress throughout the year and, despite the setbacks, we still took three victories on track so we can be happy with our performance over the season.”

JAS Motorsport Managing Director Alessandro Mariani insists that the team will come back stronger in 2016, whilst also praising the success of Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz in securing the Yokohama Independent’s Trophy.

“We tried a new setup [on Thursday], but it didn’t work properly so by the end we came back and the final pace was pretty satisfactory in the races,” said Mariani. “I am very happy because of Norbi’s success in the Yokohama Trophy and also the pace of all three cars, in spite of the contact in the first corner, was good.

“As usual our race was better than qualifying. Now we need to think about next year and come back stronger.”

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