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Honda could be ‘extremely competitive’ in Morocco

Honda’s Tiago Monteiro believes that the Japanese manufacturer could be “extremely competitive” when the World Touring Car Championship hits the streets of Marrakech this weekend, due to a reduction in compensation weight.

Honda have had their compensation weight reduced by 30 kg ahead of the fourth round of the season, with the Civics now running with 40 kg on board compared to the 70 kg which they carried last time out in Budapest.

With the Marrakech circuit having been completely overhauled for the 2016 season – now comprising a semi-permanent circuit instead of the street circuit punctuated by chicanes – the Portuguese racer believes the Hondas will be amongst the pace-setters.

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“Usually when you come to a race, you already have your base set-up and the driver’s responsibility is just to identify some small improvements,” said Monteiro. “But with a new layout, like we have in Morocco this weekend, the responsibility of the driver becomes much more and it’s a challenge I really enjoy.

“What we showed in Hungary was that even with 70 kg of ballast on the car, we could be extremely competitive, which was proven when we became the only manufacturer this season to qualify three cars inside the top six and then won MAC3 for the second race in a row.

“So to have only 40kg on the car this time should put all three factory Hondas in contention for victory.”

Whilst Monteiro sits just 12 points shy of championship leader José María López in second in the standings, his team-mate Rob Huff fell further adrift in Hungary, after just one points finish.

Despite that, the Brit remains upbeat heading to a venue which he admits to enjoying racing at.

“I really enjoy coming to Marrakech,” said Huff. “As a city, it’s totally different to anywhere else we go and we always have a good time.

“This year will be a completely new experience, because although it’s the same location we’ve had for the past seven seasons, the circuit is completely new. The layout looks interesting and with a bit more variety in the kind of corner we’ll have compared to the old version, but we won’t really know what we’re dealing with until we hit the track on Friday.

“Hungary was a tough weekend for the whole team results-wise, but we’ve proved that the pace we can run with a lot of ballast on board is good, so with a reduced weight of 40 kg, that gives everyone encouragement for Morocco.”

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