Tiago Monteiro moved back to the top of the World Touring Car Championship standings with a double podium on home soil in Portugal, with the Honda driver now four points clear.
Although Monteiro could only manage fourth in qualifying when a damper leak caused a huge slide at the end of his lap, the Portuguese racer made gains in both races to leave his home race as the second-biggest points scorer of the weekend.
In the Opening Race Monteiro made a strong start to move up to fourth on the first lap, before a well-judged joker lap gained him two places and a podium position in second.
The Main Race saw smaller gains, but from fourth on the grid Monteiro benefitted when front-row man Rob Huff stalled, moving the Portuguese driver into third where he remained for the rest of the race.
“It’s really great to race here,” said home hero Monteiro, who was greeted with rapturous cheers on the podium. “It is a great joy to contribute to this fantastic festival. I always leave Vila Real with a really good feeling.
“Everything went perfectly, especially in the first race: the start, which was risky, but which bore fruit, then the ‘joker lap’ right at the perfect moment.
“In the Main Race, I managed to take advantage of an opponent’s mistake in front of me, which allowed me to recover a position. I tried my hardest to do even better, but the pace was very fast and the ‘wildcard’ did not give the desired effect the second time around.”
Monteiro added that re-taking the lead of the championship, which he has now held after eight of this year’s ten races so far, was important before heading into the fly-away half of the season.
“We needed this result to come back [in the title fight],” continued Monteiro. “If we want to be champions, we must keep this position to the end so we can achieve our goals.
“We secured a great result in Vila Real, perhaps better than we expected, especially after qualifying. The decision to implement the ‘joker lap’ was fantastic. This allowed us not only to win positions on a circuit that is difficult to overtake on but it also delighted the fans.
“Now, we must continue to move forward and not lose sight of our goal. We have all noticed that our rivals are tough and won’t give up. But nor will we.”