The Honda Civics of Norbert Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini set their fastest times of qualifying on the very last lap of the session to annex the second row of the grid for the start of Race 1 in tomorrow's WTCC event here at Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina.
Just 10 minutes is allotted for Q2, the final shootout for the quickest 12 cars in Q1, and with the longest lap of any of the WTCC circuits visited so far this season, there was little chance of getting more than four full timed laps before the chequered flag. Michelisz in the Zengo Motorsport Honda Civic took third fastest overall with Tarquini less than a tenth of a second behind.
"I was really on a fast last lap but there was traffic with cars slowing which lost me time but I'm happy with fourth place and to be on the second row with another Honda. We must attack right from the start tomorrow and try and make the podium," said Gabriele.
Daisuke Horiuchi, Large Project Leader for WTCC development from Honda R & D confirms the on-going performance development for WTCC. "At Porto we took a too aggressive approach on engine mapping and the result was the failure of two turbo units. Consequently we have prepared new software settings which keep the extra gain in performance and at the same time limit the risk factors. We have run these new settings on all three cars and are very satisfied with today's performance."
The Termas de Rio Hondo circuit is a first class facility, brought right up to date recently especially to host the FIA World Touring Car Championship on the first visit of the Championship to Argentina. The drivers have been impressed with the long 4.8km circuit. "It is very flowing and quite technical with a lot of possibilities to take different lines," reports Tiago Monteiro. "And it is very wide so we can expect some dramatic overtaking moves in the races."
Apart from local hero "Pechito" Lopez, none of the regular WTCC drivers had been on the circuit before and took advantage of the test session on Friday prior to today's two free practice sessions and the official qualifying to establish the start grid for tomorrow's two Championship races.
Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team