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Tiago Monteiro ‘privileged’ to be ‘at the heart’ of Honda’s title push

Tiago Monteiro says he is ‘privileged’ to be continuing with Honda in the 2017 World Touring Car Championship season, with the Portuguese ace spearheading the manufacturers’ title challenge.

Monteiro has been with the factory-backed JAS Motorsport squad since the 2012 season, when he was the first driver to sample Honda’s first factory-backed WTCC car.

The 40-year-old will now team up alongside Norbert Michelisz, for a second successive season, and Japanese ace Ryo Michigami, who joins the team full-time in 2017 to replace the outgoing Rob Huff.

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Monteiro finished third overall in the championship standings in 2016 after a career-best campaign, and he says that the title is once again his target in 2017.

“It’s fantastic to be staying with Honda and I’m incredibly enthusiastic about what lies ahead in 2017,” said Monteiro. “It is a great privilege to continue being at the heart of the Honda project in the FIA WTCC and I am very excited about the upcoming season.

“I joined Honda at the start of the WTCC programme in 2012 with the aim of becoming World Champion, and that target remains the same.

“In 2016 I came closer than ever before as I finished third in the points, became the first Portuguese driver to lead an FIA World Championship and scored a hugely emotional win on the streets of Vila Real – very close to where I grew up.

“Last year the Civic WTCC was the best it’s ever been and so was the way the team worked. If we continue to build on this in 2017, as I’m sure we will, then we can be sure of an extremely strong push for the title.

“The Honda Civic had never been as powerful as it was in 2016 and the team continued on with this good dynamic to optimize the car during the winter. I think we are on the right track, the one that will allow us to cement our common ambition: the world title.”

Monteiro also had praise for his team-mates Michelisz, who finished just one point behind him in 2016 after an equally impressive year, and the incoming Michigami.

“Norbert is a great driver and I think our collaboration with him will be even more effective,” added Monteiro. “Regarding Ryo, who is now joining the Honda family in the FIA WTCC, I wish him all the happiness in the world with this fantastic team and I am convinced that his experience will help him become familiar with the team and the championship quite quickly.

“Together with Norbert and Ryo, we will give our best for the good of the team to help achieve our world title goal.”

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