Honda will be represented with four cars in the 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), with KCMG moving up to the series with young Hungarian Attila Tassi joining experienced Portuguese racer Tiago Monteiro in the team.
KCMG will run two cars in WTCR, with Münnich Motorsport running the other two Honda Civic Type-R cars for Néstor Girolami and Esteban Guerrieri.
The team, which was founded in 2007 by Paul Ip, last year competed in the TCR Europe series with Tassi and Josh Files racing a pair of the Civic Type-Rs.
Tassi proved to be one of the front-runners, remaining in the mix for the title for much of the season and securing two wins, before ending the year fourth overall in the drivers’ standings.
The 19-year-old’s association with Honda goes back to the 2017 season when Tassi took part in his second year in the TCR International Series, racing the FK2-spec Honda for Norbert Michelisz’s M1RA team.
Tassi also contested the WTCR round at the Hungaroring last year as a wildcard entry, taking a best result of 15th in the three races.
“I’m absolutely delighted to become a Honda Racing driver and to step up to the WTCR for a full season with KCMG,” said Tassi. “It’s a dream come true and I’m very grateful to have this opportunity at 19 years of age.
“So far in my racing career I’ve always been able to fight for victories and podiums, but I know that this will be the highest-level series I’ve ever contested, and I had a taste of this in my wildcard outing at the Hungaroring last year.
“There will be many circuits I have never been to before and lots of new additional things too, so I know that I have to take this as a learning year, but the environment in the team is very good for a young driver like me, so I think we can achieve some strong results and move forwards during the year.”
Monteiro had already been confirmed as a works Honda driver in WTCR once again, and the 42-year-old will get to take on his first full season since his injury sustained at the end of the 2017 WTCC season.
The Portuguese 11-time WTCC race winner made his return to racing in Japan last year, when he just missed out on the top ten in race three.
“It’s incredibly exciting to return to racing full-time this year with KCMG and Honda and to welcome a young, fast and determined team-mate in Attila, who I know will be great to work with,” said Monteiro.
“KCMG may be new to WTCR, but they have a fantastic track record in every form of motorsport they’ve contested plus a huge amount of touring car experience within the team, so we should be competitive from the first event.
“It’s been a long road to recovery, but the support I’ve been shown throughout by Honda, the WTCR and the entire motorsport family has been incredible.
“Attending the events when I wasn’t racing was tough, and my comeback in Japan was incredibly emotional. It’s been a tough a journey, but I have no doubt that I’m stronger and more motivated than I’ve ever been and eager to win the championship that was taken away from me by injury in 2017.”
KCMG Team Principal Paul Ip is pleased for the team to be making its top-level touring car début. The outfit, which is based in Hong Kong, has previously competed in various motorsport categories including LMP2 at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“We are very happy to make the step up to a full-time WTCR programme with the Honda Civic Type R TCR in 2019,”said Ip. “Last year was our first with the car and we not only won the TCR Europe Teams’ Championship, but also made two wildcard appearances in WTCR, which has led on to this logical step.
“In Tiago we have one of the most experienced touring car drivers in the world, who has been a consistent race winner at this level and in Attila we have an exciting you prospect who raced with us last year and has the potential to go right to the top of the tree in WTCR.”