MOTORSPORT NEWS TOURING CAR

Honda hoping Portugal test will have further closed gap Citroën

The Castrol Honda squad head to Morocco this weekend for the second round of the 2015 FIA World Touring Car Championship season, and are hoping that a recent test in driver Tiago Monteiro’s home country of Portugal will have further closed the gap to the almighty Citroën team this weekend.

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Monteiro was the closest threat to the factory Citroën drivers last time out in Argentina, although the French marque still picked off the the top two spots in both races, with Monteiro able to grab third in the second race.

As a result, Monteiro sits 20 points adrift of points leader José María López heading into this weekend and third in the championship, with Gabriele Tarquini six points further behind, tied in fourth in the standings with Citroën’s Yvan Muller.

“Since returning from Argentina the team has been working hard with a three-day test in the Algarve, during which we were able to work on set up for this weekend,” said Monteiro. “Marrakech is a very special place. The circuit is incredibly challenging with very long straights and really only two proper corners, with plenty of high-speed kerbs. It’s very hard on brakes so strategy wise, the best way to approach the weekend is to go slightly conservative, building confidence on familiarisation with the track over the sessions.”

Gabriele Tarquini hopes to build on his steady start in Argentina at the Circuit Moulay El Hassan this weekend, at a race he was forced to miss last season due to a crash in practice which damaged the roll cage of his then brand new TC1-class Honda Civic.

“Marrakech is quite a strange track. It’s the ultimate driving challenge – difficult, dangerous with such close proximity to the walls and no escape routes, so one small mistake and you pay very hard. Unfortunately I don’t have good memories from last year so I am keen to improve and avoid any drama.

“Qualifying well is important here as overtaking can be very difficult, so expect to see teams slipstreaming during the session to extract the best top speed. Realistically I think we can target the podium but as we know from previous races here, anything can happen.”