Tiago Monteiro overcame the obstacles which were placed before him on the Zolder circuit in Belgium this weekend in order to secure some excellent results in the fourth round of the FIA Touring Car Championship (WTCC). Despite carrying a maximum...
Tiago Monteiro overcame the obstacles which were placed before him on the Zolder circuit in Belgium this weekend in order to secure some excellent results in the fourth round of the FIA Touring Car Championship (WTCC). Despite carrying a maximum ballast of 40kg and a fateful blow in qualifying when the rain appeared and ruined his efforts in the Super Pole session, after he had been the second best performer in the first round of qualifying that was disputed on a dry track, the SEAT SR-Sport driver leaped from 8th place on the starting grid in the first race to 5th at the finish.
The SEAT Leon TDI #3 proved to have some obvious qualities on the technical layout of Zolder and Tiago was involved in some intense fights with Alain Menu and Robert Huff as a result, however the similarity of their race pace, the characteristics of the circuit itself and the desire to secure points without taking too many big risks did not make it possible for Tiago to make it onto the podium. "Starting from 8th place on the grid, I knew the first race would be difficult and it is frustrating because I've had been one of the fastest since the beginning of the weekend," Tiago, who clocked the fastest lap times of the first practice session and was second in the second session explained. "But the weather conditions are obviously impossible to foresee and they played a key role in the attribution of positions on the starting grid for the first race. Nevertheless, the most important thing was that these great performances were motivating for me and for the team. We are racing with a lower budget than last year but we have the skills to overcome our difficulties and prepare a competitive car which will allow us to fight for the title."
However, the unobtainable podium in race one could not be kept from him in race two. An excellent start from 4th on the grid made it possible for Tiago to immediately join in the fight for victory. Tiago began by putting Huff and Priaulx under pressure and crossed the finish line less than two seconds behind the winner at the end of a 13 lap epic battle which required concentration every moment as well as great car control while attempting to attack the two drivers in front of him while also trying to defend Swiss driver Alain Menu's attacks from behind. "It was a spectacular race and the fight was intense all 13 laps long. The race paces were rather similar and on a track like this the best opportunity you have to overtake a car is if the driver ahead of you makes a mistake. But I'm satisfied with the week-end. The car was very competitive and SEAT and SR-Sport did a great job. The championship is highly competitive and tight and it is impossible to say who will have the upperhand. But with an equivalent and not higher ballast than our rivals we should be better armed to give them a few hard times."
Tiago's fantastic performance in Belgium made him move up two places in the drivers' classification where he is now 5th, and be one of the fastest SEAT drivers. In a fortnight's time, the International Autodromo of Algarve will host the 9th and 10th races of the FIA World Touring Car Championship and Tiago will be counting on the precious help of his Portuguese public to give him further encouragement to conquer more important points in both championships.