Gabriele Tarquini was pleased to return to the Honda World Touring Car Championship team as a stand-in for Tiago Monteiro in China, with the Italian making it through to Q3 on his return to the championship.
Tarquini returned to the factory Honda squad in Ningbo this weekend to stand-in for the injured Monteiro, and the veteran Italian was immediately on the pace.
Having been the fastest driver of all in Q2, Tarquini went on to make a mistake in the wet in Q3 and ultimately qualified in fifth, having lost a significant chunk of time on his only flying lap in the shootout.
“It feels great to be back in the Honda Civic WTCC,” said Tarquini, “after nearly two years away and with a team with which I’ve had so many great times.
“Going fastest in Q2 was fantastic, but it turned out to be a bad thing because it meant I was last to go in Q3 and it started to rain heavily just as I started my lap. I made a mistake at Turn 1 and pushed too hard trying to recover, so ended up in fifth.”
Tarquini is hoping to be able to help team-mate Norbert Michelisz and the absent Monteiro on Sunday by taking as many points away from the rival Volvos as possible.
“This is still a very good result and I’m in a strong position to be able to help the team and Norbi tomorrow and do the best job I can for Tiago.”
Michelisz, who is team-mates with Tarquini for the first time, is expecting big things from the 55-year-old, who comes off the back of a maiden victory in the TCR International Series just one week ago.
“He’s a rookie so it’s all about helping him,” joked Michelisz. “Everybody knows Gabriele. He was part of the family for a long time. He knows the car inside out.
“Maybe he wasn’t there for the last two years but he’s a guy who is always talking with the engineers, looking in to every small detail.
“And you see from the first moment he was there in terms of performance. If you look at the races tomorrow, he has the speed and experience to be there. I expect a podium finish, even a bit more.”