Tiago Monteiro champion of team spirit in Macau SEAT Sport takes both WTCC crowns
The 6th and 4th places obtained by Tiago Monteiro in the finale of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in Macau today, do not reflect the true performances of the Portuguese driver on the circuit of Guia. As his record lap in the first race testifies, which saw him at least one half second faster than his fellow SEAT Sport teammates, Tiago was fastest on the longest and most technical track on the calendar. It also shows that if it wasn't for his immense team spirit, he would have been able to fight for the victory. By giving up his 2nd place, Tiago also had to forget about 8th position in the drivers' championship, which otherwise would have been his, in the final rankings.
After quickly getting past the BMW drivers with a flying start in the first round of which he started in fifth place, Tiago seriously started to hamper the title chances of the SEAT Sport drivers' only rival still in a strong place for the title, BMW racer Augusto Farfus. Then Tiago was harassing the leader, Robert Huff, for 7 of the 9 laps before allowing himself to slip behind his teammates, Gabriele Tarquini and Yvan Muller, ensuring that that the drivers crown would come to one of the SEAT Sport drivers at the conclusion of the Macau meeting. "It's a great victory for SEAT Sport even though I had to let go of the one I could have secured on track. I am not bitter about it, on the contrary I am really proud to have been the keystone of SEAT Sport's success," Tiago explained. "I knew the first lap would be crucial. I immediately understood that my good start hurt the BMW drivers. As a matter of fact they changed their strategy to choose a new one exclusively focused on the constructor's championship. I was faster than Huff but I did not allow myself to take even the smallest risk because I did not want to jeopardize SEAT Sport's tally as they needed the maximum of points for the constructors' championship."
Less than an hour later, Tiago started off in his SEAT Leon TDI from the inside of the second row of the grid for the second and final race. This made it possible for Yvan Muller to profit from the tow and Tiago allowed the Frenchman to pass before braking into Lisbon corner. Then he was once again at the service of his teammate by protecting him from his pursuers while holding firmly to 4th place. Three laps before the chequered flag, a pile-up between three competitors forced the race stewards to red flag the event. This was the final end to the race; as more than 75% of the distance had been covered all points were awarded to drivers and teams. As a result, Gabriele Tarquini took the crown with Yvan Muller second while SEAT Sport took the constructors title, preserving both world crowns in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) for another year. "I had hoped to climb onto the podium that I let go in the first race, but the most important thing was to make sure the drivers who crashed were doing good," Tiago says, "I ended the season on a high and with the satisfaction that I strongly contributed to SEAT Sport's success. It is a great team, both on a technical and personal level and I'm very proud to have been a part of preserving the two titles in one of the most competitive world championships. Unfortunately I won't attend the party tonight but it's for great news: I'm going back to Europe right now as my son will soon be born!"