On their second appearance since they joined the championship for a full season, the Castrol Honda Team claimed pole position and another podium finish.
At Marrakech Gabriele Tarquini gave the Civic its first pole position – Honda’s second, eight years after Roberto Colciago topped qualifying at Puebla in 2005 at the wheel of a JAS-run Accord. On the race day the Italian driver managed to keep the lead for five laps and eventually finished second behind Michel Nykjær.
“It was difficult to keep Nykjær behind. Unfortunately I made one mistake and he used it for overtaking me. We have definitely improved in terms of speed, but we are still slower than the Chevrolet cars and therefore I couldn’t get close enough to Nykjær in the last laps to try and pass him,” Tarquini explained.
Race 2 had a bitter end for Tarquini, who crashed on lap 8 collecting Alex MacDowall’s Chevrolet. Tarquini was sent to the circuit’s medical centre for checks as he suffered from a stiff neck.
“I had brake problems. It was the first time I drove the car on a circuit that is hard for brakes and after five, six laps I began to have problems. I was not able to overtake Basseng and MacDowall was on my tail. With hindsight I should have let MacDowall pass to cool down the brakes…”
Tiago Monteiro’s weekend was to forget, as he crashed twice, in qualifying and the first race.
“It is tough to be really challenging at this level,” said Team Director, Alessandro Mariani, “but pole position and second place showed the great potential we have.The season is very busy with many races and we must try to keep up with our development plans in between those races.”