A huge popular success, but a disappointing result The Portuguese meeting of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) left a taste of unfinished business in Tiago Monteiro's mouth. The popular success encountered by both the WTCC and the...
A huge popular success, but a disappointing result
The Portuguese meeting of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) left a taste of unfinished business in Tiago Monteiro's mouth. The popular success encountered by both the WTCC and the SEAT driver surpassed all expectations, With more than 115'000 people cheering for the local driver, but the race results were not up to Tiago's abilities.
Yet everything had started well for the SEAT Leon No. 18 car driver, who had quickly found his marks on the circuit laid out in the streets of downtown Porto. Finishing fourth and fifth in the two training sessions, Tiago found himself trapped during qualifying, slamming into the tire wall at the pit chicanes due to a tarmac degradation. "I made a small error in my first attempt by sticking too close to Muller when he was coming out of the pits. I bent a rear suspension but the team did an amazing job and finished the repair in less than 15 minutes," Tiago explained. "I still had a chance to do a good job, but when I got to the high speed chicane I quickly discovered that it was not my day. The asphalt was deteriorating and I hear the gravel crackling under the wings of my SEAT car. It was like finding yourself on ice all of a sudden! I lost control of the car, which slid and crashed into a wall. The impact was so big that I was breathless for a few seconds! But the biggest damage occurred during my race. Starting in 21st, I had no hope of scoring points in either race. The frustration of not being able to make a good showing for my fans and my team was huge."
In the first race, from 21st at the start to 15th at the finish line, Tiago made a courageous and aggressive comeback, but it was not without its limits. "It was not easy to overtake, especially since the track was very narrow. I really could not do any better in the first race. In the second, the water temperature climbed dangerously and even passed the authorized limit! There was a lot of wind and the air intakes on my SEAT Leon were clogged with leaves and debris. The team asked me to quit in order to avoid blowing the engine. Once the air intake cleaned I came back to thank the people who came out in such numbers to respond to the call from me, SEAT, and the WTCC, and finished 13th!"
The competitive results from the weekend were not what Tiago had in mind for the streets of his hometown. But the human element surpassed all expectations. "It was an emotion-packed event. I was not expecting such a success. There were parts of the circuit entirely covered in with the yellow of my shirts, caps and flags! From the cockpit I could hear the crowd yelling; I had goose bumps! Trully an emotional week end!"
Next races are July 28-29 at Anderstorp (Sweden).