Tiago Monteiro believes that his and Honda’s start to the 2016 World Touring Car Championship season has been ‘the best we could have hoped for’ after the Portuguese racer came away from France second overall in the standings.
Monteiro proved that Honda have upped their pace during the winter in qualifying by putting his Honda Civic in second on the grid.
He then fought his way up from ninth in the reversed-grid opening race to finish fourth by the chequered flag, behind team-mate Norbert Michelisz.
In the main race, despite losing out at the start to Citroën’s Yvan Muller, Monteiro was able to claw his way back into the race, passing the Frenchman with light contact at the half-way stage before setting about closing the gap to leader José María López.
Unfortunately for Monteiro time ran out, and he was unable to close the gap in time to the 80 kg heavier Citroën, having to settle for second.
“We are better attuned and consistent and this result proves that, otherwise it would have been much more complicated to overcome,” explained Monteiro of his race one result. “I was very satisfied at the end of the race, our lap times were exceptional and this clearly shows the excellent work that the team has been doing.”
Commenting on the main race, Monteiro feels that had he not been bottled up behind Muller for so long then he could have had time to challenge López harder for the win.
“Unfortunately I was stuck for a long time early in the race,” he added. “Had that not been the case, the story would have been quite different. After reaching second place again, I gave everything I had to gain some ground. On the last lap I tried to make the ultimate pass, I tried but I couldn’t do it. I would have needed one or two more laps to get the job done.
“It may not have been a victory, but it feels like one after everything that happened on track. The entire team is very happy with our performance this weekend and we are looking forward to continuing our fight for victories and both world titles.”