Honda secures WTCC runner-up spot with Guerrieri win

Esteban Guerreiri ans Tiago Monteiro © DR

Honda scored victory in the final race of the FIA World Touring Car Championship to secure the runner-up spots in both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ points tables.

Polesitter Esteban Guerrieri claimed a lights-to-flag victory in the Main Race at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar to add to a 10th-placed finish in the reversed-grid Opening Race.


He was joined on the podium by Tiago Monteiro, who was nominated to collect the winning manufacturer trophy on behalf of Honda.

Esteban’s victory was his first since joining Honda and the fifth Main Race victory of the year for the Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team; the highest number achieved by any of the competitors in the 2017 season. It also moved the Argentinian up to fourth in the end-of-season points table.

His team-mate Norbert Michelisz began Friday night’s races just 8.5 points behind his title rival in the battle for the Drivers’ Championship, but started 11th on both occasions after a braking issue affected his qualifying performances.

He made strong starts to both races to move up several places, but with overtaking extremely difficult on the Losail circuit due to its succession of long, sweeping corners, he was limited to ninth and eighth places in the two races.

While this was not quite enough to secure the title, he did claim second place in the points table; the best position ever achieved by a Hungarian driver in an FIA circuit racing World Championship. He also ended the season with the highest number of pole positions and Main Race wins of any driver.

Ryo Michigami started 13th twice and finished 14th in the Opening Race after losing positions at the start. Several set-up changes improved his car for the Main Race and he was able to end the season with a points finish.

Esteban Guerrieri #86 : « “I’m extremely pleased to end the season with a victory; my first since joining Honda. The team improved the car a lot after the Opening Race and in the Main Race the car was the best I’ve ever driven in my career; it was just perfect and I could control the race comfortably. I’d like to thank Honda for giving me the opportunity to drive for a works team in a World Championship. I know the circumstance only came about because of Tiago’s injuries, and it was very special to celebrate with him on the podium.” »

Norbert Michelisz #5 : « “I had the fastest car throughout this weekend and I thought that would give me the best possible chance of fighting for the title. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way, but I gave it my all. After the issue with the brakes in qualifying, I knew I had two tough races ahead of me, and although I made some progress, the nature of this circuit makes overtaking very difficult, so I wasn’t able to do it. I’m still very proud to have finished second in the championship. It’s the best season of my life. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to come back next year and go one better.” »

Ryo Michigami #34 : « “I’m pleased to end the season with a points finish at the end of a pretty tough day. Qualifying didn’t go as planned because of the track time we lost in practice, and from there it was always going to be tough. I made a bad start in the Opening Race and had a lot of understeer immediately. In the Main Race I made a very good start and the car was much better because of some set-up changes we made. I tried to chase down ninth place, but it wasn’t quite possible. I’ve learnt an awful lot this season and I want to thank Honda for giving me the opportunity to race in a World Championship for the first time.” »

Alessandro Mariani – Team Principal : « “Today we were in total control in terms of speed. Esteban dominated the Main Race and Norbi was the strongest driver in qualifying, but unfortunately had a technical issue that meant he could not qualify where he deserved to. We have shown all season that we had the fastest car because we have won the most Main Races and had the most pole positions. I’m very disappointed that Norbi did not have the chance to win the Championship, but I am very proud of the engineering job we have done as a collaboration between the engineers from Honda, Mugen and JAS in producing the fastest TC1 car in the world.” »

Ryuichi Furukawa – Large Project Leader WTCC Development, Honda R&D : « “Firstly, I would like to congratulate Esteban on a fantastic Main Race victory. He is a very good driver and I had every confidence he would win the race from pole position because the car we gave him was very strong. Unfortunately, today’s results were not enough to win the championships for either Norbi or for Honda, but thanks to the work of the mechanics and engineers, we have produced the fastest car this season and developed it very well as the year went on. Of this we are proud.” »


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