Tiago Monteiro has explained the mistake which cost him a podium finish in the final FIA World Touring Car Cup race at Suzuka, when the Honda driver took to the pit lane entrance on the final lap.
The final lap of the race took place under safety car conditions when Tomita Ryuichiro went off. With the racing neutralised, Monteiro began to return to the pits, before realising that he had to cross the finish line with the rest of the field to hold his position.
That saw Monteiro cede track position to the Alfa Romeo of Kevin Ceccon and drop to fourth, but the KCMG driver was then penalised further when the stewards took a dim view on his use of the pit lane entrance, and handed him a post-race ten second penalty for the move.
“We had a miscommunication at the end of race three over the radio,” explained Monteiro. “I lost focus and headed for the pitlane, and in the time it took to realise my mistake, I lost third place.
“I thought it was the last lap and in fact you have to finish the lap of course. I was talking on the radio, didn’t pay attention and started coming into the pits.
“I came out right away but Kevin passed me, so it’s a bit of strange one because it’s still the safety car. But the stewards decide like this. With the decisions made this weekend, I’m really confused. Very tough to take.
“It’s a real shame, but we showed this weekend that we’re right back on the pace and I hope we can keep this up for the rest of the season.”
Monteiro remained positive about his performances in Japan, having claimed an outright pole position for race one on Saturday, which he turned into a podium finish. Despite the penalty it was still the Portuguese’s best weekend in WTCR.
“I was the best-placed Honda driver in race two after a great start and the fastest Honda driver in race three as well after a front-row qualifying performance.
“I want to help Honda win the championship, so I didn’t make it hard for Esteban [Guerrieri] when he came to pass me.
“We’ve scored good points and showed well for Honda at their home circuit.”