RACE 3 PRESS CONFERENCE
JVCKENWOOD RACE OF JAPAN
26-28 October 2018
WTCR – FIA World
Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO, Rounds 25-27 of 30
Briefing Room, Suzuka Circuit, 13h30, 28 October 2018
Gabriele Tarquini, BRC Racing Team, first position Race 3
Aurélien Comte, DG Sport Compétition, second position Race 3
Kevin Ceccon, Team Mulsanne, third position Race 3
Rob Huff, Sébastien Loeb Racing, first position Race 2
Tiago Monteiro, Boutsen Ginion Racing
Gabriele, you have won Race 3 and stretched your WTCR OSCARO points
lead to 39 – a very satisfying weekend for you.
Yes, you can see the smile on my face. The gap is bigger than I
expected because after the grid position penalty yesterday it was not
easy. Yvan [Muller] recovered 10 points on me. But today was a
different day. I got the chance to score some points, made a fantastic
start in Race 2 and even better in Race 3, and this was the key to my
success. I am very disappointed for Kevin because he was the fastest
guy here, uncatchable for everybody. But unfortunately he got his five-second
penalty and to be honest when they informed me I let him past. I did
not have to challenge for the race, I was thinking about the points for
my fight for the championship. But after I tried to be as close as
possible, but he was very, very fast. But even with this fast car he
was not able to gain five seconds. For me it was a good chance to score
Rob, you won Race 2 and like Gabriele would it be fair to say the start
was key for you?
Yes, but first of all a huge congratulations to the guys on my left,
but bigger congratulations has to go to this guy [Tiago Monteiro]. To
achieve what he has achieved after only 18 months after a life-changing
crash and to perform as he has this weekend, the whole championship is
very proud of you, mate, so well done. From my side, what a relief to
have this weekend. We’ve had probably one of the most trying seasons
I’ve had for a long time, certainly the last four meetings, so to be
able to reward the team with a win, certainly after first qualifying…
the car was still not where I needed it to be and the guys did an
amazing job. Apart from that Alfa Romeo we probably had the fastest
race car of the weekend. I was lucky enough to put my experience to
good use and make two really good starts. Certainly in the first race
today, which gave me the lead of course and just managed to pace
myself. It’s really hard on tyres here and we didn’t do the full race
yesterday, so we didn’t know exactly how the car would perform. But I
just managed to keep Pepe [Oriola] behind and he had trouble from
Norbi, which gave me the space to do what I needed to do. Those 25
points are 25 of the most valuable of my career.
Aurélien, you were second in Race 3 for another podium on your first
weekend at Suzuka. A good weekend for you?
Yes, of course. I am very happy. In Race 2 the car was not easy and my
team made a lot of set-up changes in [OSCARO] Repair Time, so good job.
Kevin, you have taken the chequered flag first not once but twice this
weekend. But unfortunately today the victory wasn’t yours. Just explain
I didn’t realise I was not in my starting grid position. Also I did a
very bad start so after Turn 1 I was very far behind. Then I overtook
again Aurélien in Spoon, then I took Ehrlacher as well, then I caught
Gabriele but had the five-second penalty. He is a gentleman so he let
me by because there was no race between him and me.
You don’t know him so well!
At least, Rob, he was kind to me!
Fifteen years and I’m still waiting!
I passed Gabriele and it was then like qualifying practice for me, for
six or seven laps in a row like there was no tomorrow, not for myself
but for the team because we were really quick this weekend. And at
least I would catch another podium for them. Gabriele was not pushing
because it was an easy race for him after that point. At least I
arrived third, but of course I am not happy because it was my mistake
and I am sorry for the team, but it can happen. We will see what will
happen in Macau. Anyway two podiums, one victory and one pole position
in Suzuka I think is not too bad.
Tiago, it is fantastic to have you back and you have achieved so much,
but just missed out on points today. But that really wasn’t important
to you, I’d imagine.
Well, well done to you guys for some great racing this weekend, and to
Kevin with a good pole, a good win and good for the championship. I
think everything will be heating up for Macau finale which will be
interesting. Unfortunately, I will be sitting outside this time because
as you know I will not participate in Macau. But I will be rooting from
the outside. It was very important, obviously, this return and the way
everything went down. I would have loved to do another qualifying this
morning, my weekend was just starting and was gaining some confidence
with the car really. It was a big, big relief that it felt good, I felt
natural, I felt as if I hadn’t stopped. Of course I need some more
rhythm, I need to understand this whole thing a bit better, but I had
so much fun. It was, as we said before, a very emotional weekend, so
much great support from these guys, the whole family and this is what
pushed me and gave me the strength to come back here. I will never
thank them enough and without this motivation I probably would have
stopped. But I’m here, I’m back and already looking at winter testing
and next year definitely.
A final word from Gabriele. Macau is next, but you have not been there
for a few years. How are you going to make up for that lost time and
how confidence are you of landing that first WTCR OSACRO world title?
It is true I have not raced there for three or four years, but I
remember well the corners and the hospital! Macau is a special race for
everybody. Apart from Rob, who is the king of Macau, it is very tough.
It’s the best position to approach the final race for me and I will be
concentrating on the title. But it’s a lottery and everything can
happen in Macau. You can have trouble, an accident, you must survive the
start especially the first corner. It’s probably not the best place for
me when you have an advantage, probably it’s the best race for Yvan
when he must recover. But that’s it. I will be with a smile as in
Suzuka and thinking about my title dream.
José Caetano (A Bola and Autofoco, Portugal):
To Kevin: where were you until now? And to Tiago, returning after 14
months and fighting for points, has this exceeded your expectations?
Until Slovakia I was at home working. A bit different to racing. In
Slovakia it was good, but of course I had been at home for eight months
without any injury compared to Tiago who has been forced to be outside.
I stopped racing with a GT3 car with a lot of downforce and rear-wheel
drive. I came to Slovakia without testing with only front-wheel drive
and half of the horsepower, so I have to say that I needed three or
four races to get used to it. In the meantime, we have scored points
and I have been really quick in Wuhan as well, but just missed Q2. This
time we were really aware not to miss Q2 and we passed to Q3. At Suzuka
the Giulietta was fitting very well, a bit better than other circuits
we have been before. Hopefully it will fit well in Macau as well. But
it’s a shame for Gabriele he hasn’t been there for three years, but I
haven’t been there in my life! I would like to have his experience in
Macau. I will try to follow the king of Macau that is Rob and leave
Gabriele fighting for his championship, to learn from these guys
because they have plenty of experience.
Obviously I didn’t set any targets for this weekend, I just wanted to
have fun and see where I was and how I felt. But of course internally
and personally you always want to do your best and get the best results
possible. So to be in the group… Okay, so I started far off at the
beginning of the weekend and the way the format was done this weekend
was not ideal for me because everything was on the first day, but I
gained confidence with the car and with myself as well. I pushed myself
to the limit to see where I was, with fourth fastest lap in race two
and fighting for the points in Race 3 in that big group. I enjoyed it
so much, so yes, it exceeded my expectations and I am very happy about it.