WTCC Official Test Autodromo di Monza, Italy
– Latest evolution Civic WTCC revealed at Monza
– Tiago Monteiro and Norbert Michelisz to drive
– Ryo Michigami to drive works Civic entered by Honda Racing Team JAS
Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team has unveiled the new-for-2017 look of the Civic WTCC as part of the official FIA World Touring Car Championship media launch and test at Monza, Italy.
The Civic, which has been boosted for 2017 by significant aerodynamic, engine and mechanical developments, will be raced by Tiago Monteiro and Norbert Michelisz while reigning Japan’s Ryo Michigami becomes a full-time factory WTCC driver for the first time.
Ryuichi Furukawa became Large Project Leader WTCC Development, Honda R&D, at the end of 2016 while a number of other personnel revisions mean that Tiago will be engineered by Andrea Cisotti and Norbert by Gergely Bari. Ryo’s engineer will be Nicola de Val.
The Monza test will run over two days, coming to an end on Wednesday, 15 March. All three drivers will be present as they continue their pre-season development programme.
The FIA World Touring Car Championship gets underway at Circuit Moulay El Hassan in Marrakech, Morocco, on April 8-9 and will comprise 10 rounds on four continents between now and the end of the year. As in 2016, the Losail circuit in Qatar will host the final round.
Tiago Monteiro #18 : « This is definitely the most excited I’ve been coming into a new season since I joined Honda. Last year was the most competitive we’ve been in the WTCC, both as a team and for me personally, and the developments that have been made to the Civic over the winter leave me confident that we can be major contenders for both championships, which of course is the aim. There are some strong rivals out there, none more so than my team-mates, so I think everybody can expect an exciting season. »
Norbert Michelisz #5 : « This is going to be a big season; I can feel it. Last year was the first time I’d joined a new team since I started racing full-time in the WTCC and it took a little bit of getting used to. By the middle of the year, everything had fallen into place and we were very competitive, and having a winter testing programme with guys I now really know and trust makes a big difference at the start of a campaign. The additional changes that JAS has made in its organisation is also going to give us further benefits; I am convinced they will make us even stronger in 2017. »
Ryo Michigami #34 : « It’s been an incredibly busy winter as I’ve learned more and more about the Civic WTCC and the championship and completed many hundreds of kilometres of testing in Europe. There is an extremely high standard of drivers and teams at the front of the grid and I know everyone in the Honda operation will work very hard to make sure we’re there. I understand that I will be coming to most of the circuits for the first time, but I’m excited about the challenges that await us. »
Alessandro Mariani – Team Principal : « We are nearly at the start of the new World Touring Car Championship season and the end of an extremely busy winter that has featured some fantastic collaboration between the engineers from JAS Motorsport and Honda and an incredible team spirit throughout. We identified several areas in which to develop the Civic WTCC for 2017 and have found some big gains in the aerodynamic and mechanical packages. I’m also delighted to welcome Ryo Michigami to the team on a full-time basis. He’s an incredibly quick learner and for a Japanese driver to integrate themselves within an Italian team so quickly has been fantastic, and a credit to his professional approach. »
Ryuichi Furukawa – Large Project Leader WTCC Development, Honda R&D : « For the 2017 season we have developed more powerful cars for Tiago, Norbert and Ryo and have also focused heavily on making improvements in several areas of both engine and chassis; and we will further improve the Civic WTCC during season. Of course, we know that our rivals have not stood still during the winter and have also made improvements, but we believe the work we have done will put us in a very strong position to fight for many race wins this year. »