FIA World Touring Car Championship challenger Tiago Monteiro has been ruled out of competing at Honda’s home event, the Race of Japan at Twin Ring Motegi, on medical advice.
The Portuguese driver was also forced to skip the previous round in China following his heavy testing crash at Barcelona in September which left him with concussion and a neck injury.
His place was taken by former teammate Gabriele Tarquini, however the Italian veteran is unavailable for the Race of Japan due to clashing commitments in the TCR series.
Monteiro’s ongoing absence places his championship hopes at major risk, although the wet weather last time out in China helped to limit the potential damage.
His chief title rival Thed Björk crashed out in the Opening Race, and with half points awarded when the Main Race was abandoned after just four laps, Monteiro only slipped half a point behind Björk in the Drivers’ Championship standings. Monteiro’s Honda teammate Norbert Michelisz sits a further 1.5 points adrift in third place.
“This is one of the most disappointing moments of my career,” Monteiro said. “As a team, we’ve worked so hard to get ourselves into a championship-winning position, and to see it slipping away like this is very tough to deal with.
“The most frustrating thing is that the recovery is actually going very well; it’s just that time is against me, but all of these things are motivating me to come back even stronger when the time is right. I have to thank the incredible medical team that are working with me every day – we share a common goal to return to racing as soon as possible – and everybody who has sent me kind messages of support through this difficult time.”
The factory Honda team did not confirm who will take Monteiro’s seat for this weekend’s event, although an announcement is expected in the coming days.
With a three-week gap after the Japanese round to the season’s penultimate event, the Guia Race of Macau, there is hope that Monteiro will have recovered sufficiently to return to the grid and keep his title aspirations alive.
Image via FIA WTCC Media