Lucky escape for Gabriele Tarquini after bonnet flies off

Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team’s Gabriele Tarquini was lucky both not to have an accident, as well as to recover to the pits and get back out to qualify in eighth position for the first race tomorrow, after his bonnet flew open at the high-speed second corner at the Slovakiaring in qualifying.

The Italian driver had just started his first flying run in qualifying when the catch came loose at the fast right-hander, forcing the Italian to slow down mid-corner, which saw team-mate Tiago Monteiro as well as LADA Sport Lukoil’s Rob Huff forced to take avoiding action off of the circuit.

“It was very odd moment for me, as I was following Norbi (Michelisz) on our first attempt, and I lost my bonnet on the entry into Turn 2, which is not the right place to have this problem,” said Tarquini to TouringCarTimes. “I was at top speed, and on the entry it was like my eyes were closed. I tried to slow down, but in the middle of this corner when you slow down you have big oversteer. I was also aware that other cars were coming and I was very slow in the middle of a fast corner, but there was nothing I could do. I was watching other cars pass me left and right and fortunately no one hit me.”

JAS Motorsport Team Principal Alessandro Mariani confirmed Honda would look into the issue which almost destroyed the qualifying session for both the Hondas.

“It is a critical point of the car for many reasons but it’s never happened before,” he said. “Gabriele was very close to the tow of Norbert, which might be why it happened, but of course now we have to understand what happened in reality, but we will make the proper changes to avoid this happening again.

“Unfortunately this destroyed the possibility to be closer to Citroën in Q2, as up to that moment (Sébastien) Loeb was in some trouble, and we could have beaten one of the Citroëns, but in the end we were very lucky as we start in good positions for race two. It’s not my best plan, but it’s better than nothing.”

Tiago Monteiro also lost out as a result of the incident, but the Portuguese driver was lucky to be able to recover and set the tenth fastest time, which secures him the provisional pole position for race two.

“I had a good improvement in the first corner and then Gabriele had an issue and slowed down and to avoid him I had to go off and damaged my underfloor,” said Monteiro to TouringCarTimes. “I managed to get back to the pits, and they repaired my front splitter, but unfortunately the underfloor was very damaged. I went out on new tyres in order to finish qualifying, but the balance of the car was completely wrong, so the position was a lucky position this time.”