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Honda secures reverse-grid front row for home race

Norbert Michelisz and Rob Huff secured Honda the front row of the grid for the Opening Race of their home round of the World Touring Car Championship, which takes place in Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi on Sunday.

Whilst the manufacturer was unable to repeat the same feat achieved in qualifying last year, where Michelisz defeated the dominant Citroën drivers to take outright pole, there was some consolation for the marque.

By finishing tenth in Q2, Michelisz will start the reverse-grid race from pole position, with Huff alongside him on the front row of the grid.

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“It feels great to know that I’m starting from pole position, thanks to some brilliant tactics from the team and my engineer Andrea [Chisotti],” said Michelisz. “I made some mistakes in Q2, but the timing was perfect to play for P10 and the reversed-grid pole, so I came back to the pits and saved the tyres once we knew nobody could go faster.

“A win is possible, even with 80 kg of compensation weight. Rob is alongside me so we will certainly work together to make sure Honda get a win for the Japanese fans here at their home event.”

Huff added that he was surprised to have crept into Q2, having been just 13th quickest in the morning’s earlier second practice session.

“I’m pleased and a little surprised with how much we improved the pace of the car between practice and qualifying,” added Huff, “because it now feels pretty good.

“Because Q2 is quite short, to get two runs in, you have to be aggressive on your out-lap. I perhaps took a little too much out of my tyres and had some oversteer as a result.

“But once we saw we were P9 and only Norbi had any chance of overhauling me, we took a tactical decision to pit and settle for the position, knowing it meant a front-row start for the Opening Race.

“Norbi and I are 1-2 on the grid so the aim is to turn that into a 1-2 finish for Honda’s home race.”

There was further positive news for Honda when Tiago Monteiro managed to break into Q3 and put his Civic in fourth overall, whilst newcomer Ryo Michigami had a solid début, putting the fourth works’ Civic in 15th overall in Q1.

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