World Touring Car Championship points leader Tiago Monteiro has been forced to withdraw from this weekend’s races in China on medical advice, with the Portuguese being replaced by former Honda driver Gabriele Tarquini.
Monteiro was involved in a high-speed accident in testing five weeks’ ago in Barcelona, resulting in a period of recovery for the Portuguese racer.
However, following medical advice and an examination today (10 October) he has been advised not to race at the new Ningbo International Speedpark this weekend.
Monteiro will therefore be replaced by 2013 – 2015 Honda driver and 2009 WTCC champion Gabriele Tarquini, who is in China following work with the Hyundai TCR project last weekend, where he took victory at the Zhejiang International Circuit.
“I’m incredibly disappointed that I cannot race in China,” said Monteiro. “As a team, we’ve worked incredibly hard to make it to the top of the championship and this is a huge setback to everybody.
“Unfortunately, the human body is what it is and despite the outstanding efforts of my medical team, I just need more time.
“My focus now shifts to returning to fitness in time for Motegi later this month and resuming my title challenge there.
“I must say a big thank you to Gabriele for stepping in. He’s a great friend and was a fantastic team-mate for many years in the WTCC, so there’s nobody else I’d rather have in the car to support my title push.”
Tarquini himself is sorry to be re-joining the factory Honda team in such circumstances, with the Italian having been team-mate to Monteiro for three years when they forged a close working relationship.
“I’m pleased to return to the Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team this weekend, although I wish it had been in happier circumstances,” said Tarquini.
“Tiago is a fantastic driver who has rightfully earned his place at the top of the championship and it’s a real shame he has to miss this weekend.
“I’ll do the very best job I can for Tiago and the team this weekend and hope that the combination of my experience of the Civic WTCC from 2014-15 and the levelling factor of a brand-new circuit can help me fight for a strong pair of results.”