The Honda Civic WTCC of Norbert Michelisz took victory in Race 1 of the WTCC event in Suzuka with a commanding show of speed and control. The number 5 Zengo Motorsport Civic made a superb start leading into the first corner never to be headed in the 26 lap race. Norbi drove away from the rest of the field to win the race by 4.8seconds. In Race 2 Tiago Monteiro claimed third position just ahead of Gabriele Tarquini in the second Castrol Honda.
At the end of the frenetic 26 laps Michelisz was as ever cool and collected: "It was a dream race for me. I had new front tyres saved from yesterday and that allowed me to get maximum grip. From the start I was able to get into the first corner ahead and I knew it was just down to me. I was able to drive without pushing or taking risks and to drive smoothly. I would really like to thank everyone for the help for my win, thanks to Honda, to JAS and my Zengo Motorsport team."
Tiago Monteiro made an excellent start from the third row of the grid to be third into the first corner but was squeezed wide at turn 2 and lost places to run 8th for much of the race. In trying to pass Oriola on lap 18 the Castrol Civic was forced into the tyre barrier and front end damage cut short his challenge. Gabriele Tarquini also made a strong start and jumped into 5th place and fought hard to hold it but a tyre failure on lap 18 sent him to the pits and down the results. Takuya Izawa drove a controlled race to bring his Honda Civic home in 12th position.
The reverse grid for Race 2 presented an opportunity for Tarquini and Monteiro to challenge for the lead, the Italian on row 2 and Tiago on row 3 again. Michelisz was sandwiched between Muller and Chilton at the start and suffered a puncture and suspension damage forcing retirement. The two Castrol Civics circulated together in 3rd and 4th places with Monteiro moving into third position on lap 12, giving the Portuguese driver a podium reward for his speed and attack during the Suzuka weekend.
Tiago Monteiro was satisfied with his podium for Race 2 but had hoped for more. "I really thought I had a good chance in Race 1 and had waited for the passing chance. I was in the correct position but the gap was closed on me and I hit the tyres. I chased hard in Race 2 and third on the podium is a good result."
Tarquini could see positives from his two races: "I made a good start in Race 1 with lots of fights for positions and then it settled down and I was confident of 5th but then the puncture put me in the pits. For Race 2 I decided to take a lower pace as we were not certain what had caused the puncture. I let Tiago into third and finished 4th." Tarquini is second in the Drivers World Championship points table.
Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team