Text: Anton Andres / Photos: Honda, Citroen, WTCC | posted June 28, 2016 15:05
Monteiro wins main race in home track
Honda driver Tiago Monteiro delighted his home crowd after winning the main race for the 2016 Race of Portugal in Villa Real. The win also marks Honda's first win after being penalized for running a different floor setup in the Civic. At the same time, the main race win moves Monteiro up to second in the standings. Tom Coronel meanwhile won the opening race for Team ROAL.
For the opening race, Tom Coronel sat on pole, followed by Nicky Catsburg in the Lada. Tom Chilton took the third spot for the first sprint of the day. When the lights turned green, Coronel capitalized on his pole position, leading the pack into the first lap. Chilton on the other hand has able to take second away from Catsburg to chase his team mate.
Also with a good start was Jose Maria Lopez, overtaking Thed Bjork for fifth in the early laps of the race. Chilton meanwhile did his best to chase his team mate for the next 13 laps. The two were never over a second away from each other and provided close racing in the narrow streets of Villa Real. Also making his way up the grid was Gabriele Tarquini who had to start from seventeenth after struggles in qualifying. Unfortunately for Hugo Valente, he was forced to retire from the race on lap 8 after running into mechanical problems.
As the two Toms battled for the lead, another fight for position was happening for sixth place. Having lost fifth to Jose Maria Lopez, Thed Bjork did his best to hold his position from Rob Huff. On the final lap, Huff was able to spot a gap and the Honda driver dove in to take sixth place. After 13 laps of defending his lead, Tom Coronel took the checkered flag with Tom Chilton just half a second away.
Finishing third was Nicki Catsburg in the Lada, followed by Mehdi Bennani in the Citroen. Lopez was unable to move up the pack and had to settle for fifth place. Sixth went to Huff while Bjork dropped down two places from the start to cross the line seventh. Norbert Michelisz finished in eighth with Yvan Muller and Tiago Monterio completing the top ten.
Tiago Monteiro sat on pole for the main race with Yvan Muller starting alongside him for P2. Muller denied Norbert Michelisz of a complete Honda front row lockout by bumping the Hungarian down to third. When the race started, Muller was determined to take the lead away from Monterio and add points to Citroen's chase for the manufacturer title.
Similar to the opening race, the main race saw the top two running nose to tail in the tight Villa Real circuit. Despite difficult passing conditions, Nicky Catsburg was able to leapfrog his way from ninth to seventh and team mate Hugo Valente found himself in the points race after jumping from thirteenth to ninth. Meanwhile, Rob Huff and Norbert Michelisz were slugging it out for the final spot on the podium. Monteiro's different line in the final sector of the track proved to be faster than Muller's line, keeping the Citroen driver at bay with a lead of almost one second.
Monteiro's consistent laps helped him win in his home track as Muller was unable to answer to Portugese driver's pace. Muller crossed the line second with a 0.821 second gap from the lead. Norbert Michelisz was able to hold off Rob Huff to keep third place. Jose Maria Lopez had another difficult race, finishing fifth while Thed Bjork kept his sixth place throughout the race. Nicky Catsburg ended up in seventh with Mehdi Bennani running a quiet race in eighth. Rounding up the top ten were Hugo Valente and Tom Chilton.
The WTCC will be on break for the month of July. The next round will be the WTCC Race of Argentina on August 6 to August 7 in the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo.