Honda Racing Team JAS are aiming to start winning races from the start of the 2013 season with the new S2000-spec Civic, with Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro at the wheel of the cars of the WTCC’s latest manufacturer entry.
The Italian team will compete with full manufacturer support from Honda and Mugen in Japan, entering as a works team for the first time, having previously run Honda Accords in the Championship as an independent between 2005-2006, with Ryan Sharp finishing fourth in the independents’ trophy with three class wins.
After a successful test with drivers Tiago Monteiro, who will race the car for the last three rounds of this year’s Championship before being joined by Tarquini from SEAT in 2013, Team Principal Alessandro Mariani is confident that the team can compete at the very top right from the start of next season.
“This is the first time we are involved in a factory programme from its inception,” said Mariani. “Honda designed and built a bespoke racing engine, and we are working side-by-side with the Japanese engineers in all the different stages. We share the same enthusiasm and I am so happy that we could establish such a good atmosphere between the two crews.”
Mariani confirmed the team will test twice in Europe, before the car is sent to Japan where it will make its WTCC debut on October 21st, where it will also have a private test ahead of the race, and outlined Honda Racing Team JAS’s aspirations for the final three rounds of the Championship and for next year:
“We all like to aim for victory,” said Mariani. “However, we must take into account that we have a brand new car, that we will start racing after only four test sessions and that the Championship is very competitive.”
“We have two great drivers, I know we have built a very advanced car and Honda’s reputation in engine expertise is second to none. We have all the right ingredients, we just need to be patient and take the time to mix them in the best way. We decided to take part in Suzuka, Shanghai and Macau to develop the car on the track. Although Honda is not putting any pressure, we would like to achieve some good results, but our true goal is winning the first race in 2013.”
Gabriele Tarquini, still contracted to SEAT Sport for the remainder of this season, recently tested the new Honda Civic at Vallelunga, and from 2013 will be back racing in a Honda for the first time since the European Super Touring Championship in 2001, where despite taking nine victories, just lost out in the Championship, finishing behind the two Alfa Romeos of Fabrizio Giovanardi and Nicola Larini.
“Honda has a huge interest in this programme,” said Tarquini. “t is the first works one since they left Formula One. This means that there are many engineers involved and everybody is under great pressure, especially the people who are in charge of the project. They have already done a huge amount of work in such a short time, but they still need to analyse all the data. There is a lot of work to do for developing the different areas of the engine. I am confident, because they have the knowledge to do it, and I saw that this first test was a great motivation for them.”