Guia Circuit veteran Tiago Monteiro is back to Macau in a different category. Monteiro left his World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) duties on hold to compete in the Guia Race, and is driving a third WestCoast Racing Honda to compete in the TCR International Series. During the first practice session yesterday, Monteiro showed that he is one of the favorites, topping the classification with a lap that averaged 142.48 km/h. Before the race, he spoke with journalists about his expectations.
– What are your expectations for your racing weekend?
Tiago Monteiro (TM) – It’s always great to be back in Macau. Unfortunately I could not be here last year, because WTCC did not race here. This time I had an invitation from Honda. They asked me if I was interested in coming to Macau and I did not hesitate for one second. It is always a challenge, because this [TCR] is not my championship. The cars are slower and very different from ours [WTCC], demanding a different driving technique. I analyzed this race’s competitive level and I think there are 10 or 12 very strong drivers. It is not going to be an easy task. Nevertheless, I’m here to have fun, since I’m not fighting in this championship. I will try my best but I don’t know where I’m going to end up in terms of classification. Basically, I want to drive in Macau. The return of WTCC to Macau [not confirmed] is great news for me as I also can train [for next year].
– Why is Macau special for you?
TM – It is a major challenge if you look just at the circuit. Then you have the race’s ambience. The event as a whole is fantastic and different from the rest. The circuit is very fast and dangerous. You pass fast, very close to the wall and the tarmac is bad. All these elements create a certain stress. Adrenaline works a bit like the drivers’ gasoline. That is what we like. So I feel good here in Macau, where everything can happen.
– Last time you were here, you almost won the WTCC race…
TM – Yes, I have to make up for that, to get my revenge. Last time I was here, the steering broke with three corners to go. I was leading and had to quit. That was hard to swallow.
– Did you test the car?
TM – Yes, I helped with the car’s development three years ago. Two weeks before coming to Macau I spent an afternoon in Estoril [former F1 racing circuit] to help a friend who races TCR in Portugal and to get a grip on the car. But of course, Estoril and Macau are quite different.