Portuguese fans are especially excited, because Tiago arrives at his home race at the wheel of a Honda Civic car run by the factory-backed Honda Castrol Racing.
“Home race is always important and I’m lucky to be in a World Championship that comes to my home place," he said.
I think it’s great and I should take advantage of it. It is always special to race with fans, friends and family who give a lot of support. I’m definitely looking forward to the Porto event.”
WTCC always had good crowds at Porto. Do you think that because this year you race with a factory team, the fans’ enthusiasm will be boosted even more?
“I think so. Everybody knows I’m now in a works team, with a competitive car. And everybody expects to see me fighting for the lead. And on top of this I have won WTCC races in Estoril and Algarve, but not in Porto. Everybody expects me to win here. Expectations are high, no doubt about it.
"I would like to do something good. I do my best every weekend. I’ll push very hard, but we have to be careful with the expectations because it’s very easy to let people down... But we know what we can do and if we see an opportunity we’ll get it.”
All street circuits are very special. What are Porto’s special feature?
“Porto is a mix between the narrow streets of Pau and the long straights of Macau. We have some very technical parts and some fast parts, and the chicanes that are quite difficult but important because if you lose speed there, then you have a problem on the long straight that follows.
"We have that long straight downhill before the pits. I would say that the circuit’s main features is to be a big challenge itself. This is one of those tracks where you need to be very confident with yourself and the car to set good lap times. Otherwise if you drive too much in control you won’t be fast enough.”
Are you happy for how the first full season with Honda is going so far?
“We are happy in general, with the way we are evolving. We had a few podium results, one win. I would say that we have achieved our goals at this stage. It’s really a work in progress. Every weekend we discover new things about the car and make changes. It’s quite interesting on a technical level to discover something new and remember what you have done in the past.
"Of course we want more. We are here to fight and win. In the first half of the season I had some tough times, lost a lot of points in accidents and problems. But I think this is part of racing. I was never worried about the championship. I focused on evolving as a driver and with the team.”
Considering the potential of the car you have exploited so far, do you think Porto is a track that suits the Civic?
“On paper yes. However, since we have this extra compensation weight on board the car is a lot more difficult to drive. A lot different in sense of reactions. We are now again discovering how to use the car with this extra weight. Now we were quite confident on technical tracks, like Porto. But I would say that we are a bit concerned and wondering how to make the car as performing as it should on handling.”
In conclusion, what are your expectations for Porto?
“Podium would be my goal. Of course if we have a win is a dream come true. I know it will be tough anyway. I want to give a good show for the fans and have fun myself. If I have fun, I think it will result in a good place.”