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A ‘wonderful day’ for Tiago Monteiro with Portugal pole

Honda’s Tiago Monteiro says it is ‘a wonderful day’ after he took a pole position in qualifying for the World Touring Car Championship in Vila Real, his first pole in six years.

Portuguese racer Monteiro took just his third pole in the championship in perfect circumstances, with the race on the streets of Vila Real also being his home event.

In the end it was a lack of mistakes for the 39-year-old on his crucial Q3 run that gave him the best starting position for the Main Race, with his nearest rival, Citroën’s Yvan Muller, just over a tenth behind.

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“It’s a wonderful day for me and for the whole team and a very good all-round performance,” said Monteiro. “I’m actually a little surprised to be on pole because I think Rob [Huff, P4] and Norbi [Michelisz, P3] were a little bit faster than me here.

“But when the pressure is really on in Q3, people can make mistakes; I made one coming out of the top chicane and lost some time, but everyone else made bigger ones and this is the result.

“I did the best I could and I pushed like crazy but then it was just a waiting game to see who could pass in front.

“I’m delighted for myself, for Honda and for all the fans who have come here and given me such incredible support all week.

“Tomorrow the aim is to keep my nose clean in the opening race, pick up as many points as I can and then go and win the main race.”

Honda Team Principal Alessandro Mariani praised Monteiro for keeping his cool in the ‘high-pressure’ Q3 segment to secure Honda’s first ‘legitimate’ pole of the year (the manufacturer had their pole in Morocco stripped earlier this year).

“It’s fantastic for us to have pole position, and to do it with our Portuguese driver, Tiago, at his home circuit,” said Mariani. “We had a lot of drama in Q3; for the first time we saw five top drivers all making mistakes, and this shows how high-pressure qualifying is on a circuit like this, where a small mistake is very easy and can be very costly.

“We also have Norbi and Rob both in the top five, which is very good for the main race, but it means that in the opening race, with all three drivers starting back in the pack, we need to be careful, make the best starts we can and maximise the points potential.”

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