Monteiro confident of race wins with Honda in 2013 WTCC season
|By Edd Straw||Wednesday, July 18th 2012, 08:43 GMT|
Ex-Formula 1 driver Tiago Monteiro is confident that Honda will be able to fight for World Touring Car Championship race wins from the start of the 2013 season.
The four-times WTCC race winner, who is currently in his sixth year racing SEAT machinery, will contest the final three races of the 2012 season in the Honda Civic development car, which is scheduled to be shaken down for the first time at the end of this month.
He is confident that the race outings, along with Honda's testing programme, plus the experience he and team-mate Gabriele Tarquini bring to the project, means that it can hit the ground running.
"We would expect to be strong right away," the ex-Jordan and Spyker F1 racer told AUTOSPORT. "That's the goal, although we need to be realistic. It's always tough to start with a new car and a new team, but we have a lot of experienced people.
"It's an amazing project and looks very dedicated and professional, as you would expect from Honda. Gabriele is one of the most experienced guys out there and is amazingly fast. He's one of my best friends out there as well, so we can have a good partnership.
"We start testing at the end of July and everything is being done as it should be and carefully prepared. It's a really great project."
Monteiro will be released from his current contract to race a SEAT in the WTCC for the final three races, although will stay on board for the upcoming Curitiba and Sears Point events.
He believes that the outings in the development Civic at Suzuka, Shanghai and Macau will give Honda a clear indication of where it stands competitively.
"I managed to get out of my SEAT contract and I have to thank them for that and the last five-and-a-half years of our relationship," said Monteiro. "Now it's a new page of my career.
"I will be doing the last three races. Instead of testing on our own all the time, it's important to start to get a feeling for the competition.
"And it's good for me and the team to get acquainted with everything before we start next year."
Monteiro believes that landing the Honda deal justifies his decision to continue to race in the WTCC despite SEAT not running a works team from 2011.
The 35-year-old is delighted to be involved with a works operation again after having experienced the level of commitment such a team offers.
"When I started in the WTCC it was with a manufacturer team after moving out of F1," he said. "That was the reason that I moved to the WTCC in the first place.
"It was my first time with a works and a really good experience. When that stopped, I stayed in the championship because I really liked it but my goal was always to be in the WTCC with a manufacturer again. Now that has happened."