Honda driver Tiago Monteiro has delighted local fans who flocked to the Vila Real street circuit by winning Sunday’s second World Touring Car Championship race at the high-speed street circuit.
Monteiro’s third win on home soil – his previous victories came at Estoril in 2008 and Portimão in 2010 – moved the Portuguese driver into second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
After securing pole position in Saturday’s thrilling qualifying session, Monteiro moved one step closer to a popular victory with a perfect getaway from the starting grid to lead Citroën’s Yvan Muller; his Honda teammates Norbert Michelisz and Rob Huff slotted in behind the Frenchman.
Behind the leading quartet, Race 1 winner Tom Coronel was penalised for blatantly jumping the start and handed a drive-through penalty, while series returnee Robert Dahlgren was forced to retire his Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo on Lap 2 with apparent engine troubles.
He wasn’t the only driver to suffer an engine drama, as Monteiro gave his engineers and fans a fright when he reported that his Civic’s engine had momentarily cut out on Lap 5. The problem fortunately proved not to be terminal, and he continued out front with Muller in hot pursuit.
The top four was never separated by more than four seconds, with the gap see-sawing lap after lap while the positions remained unchanged. Michelisz survived a late nudge from Huff, but held on to third to complete the podium.
Reigning champion José María López had a rather surprising race and was unable to keep pace with the top four, rapidly dropping back in the final laps to finish just ahead of Thed Björk’s Volvo. The Argentine driver could afford a poor weekend, and heads into the next round – his home race – with a 101-point advantage over Monteiro in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Despite being saddled with a hefty 70kg of performance ballast this weekend, Nicky Catsburg and LADA teammate Hugo Valente both made great starts and finished seventh and ninth respectively, with the pair splitting the Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroëns of Mehdi Bennani and Tom Chilton to round out the top ten finishers.
The next round takes place at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo circuit in Argentina on August 7, which kickstarts the flyaway leg of the championship season.
|2016 FIA WTCC Race of Portugal – Race 2 Final Classification (14 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Tiago Monteiro||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||14||27:53.321|
|2.||Yvan Muller||Citroën Racing WTCC C-Elysée||14||+ 0.821|
|3.||Norbert Michelisz||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||14||+ 2.181|
|4.||Rob Huff||Honda Racing Team JAS Civic WTCC||14||+ 3.402|
|5.||José María López||Citroën Racing WTCC C-Elysée||14||+ 16.164|
|6.||Thed Björk||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||14||+ 17.374|
|7.||Nick Catsburg||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||14||+ 17.904|
|8.||Mehdi Bennani||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||14||+ 21.614|
|9.||Hugo Valente||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||14||+ 23.054|
|10.||Tom Chilton||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||14||+ 23.364|
|11.||James Thompson||Münnich Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||14||+ 28.125|
|12.||Grégoire Demoustier||Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée||14||+ 33.547|
|13.||Gabriele Tarquini||LADA Sport Rosneft Vesta WTCC||14||+ 34.675|
|14.||John Filippi||Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze||14||+ 47.223|
|15.||Ferenc Ficza||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||14||+ 47.654|
|16.||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze||13||+ 1 lap|
|DNF.||Dániel Nagy||Zengõ Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC||3||Spin|
|DNF.||Robert Dahlgren||Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo S60 TC1||1||Engine|
Image via FIA WTCC