WTCC - Monteiro sets pace in Macau

Tiago Monteiro set the fastest lap in the World Touring Car Championship test session at Macau.

The Portuguese driver was on top of the timesheets in the Honda Civic when the session was red-flagged three minutes before the end after a crash by Darryl O’Young.

Lap times dropped by nearly five seconds during the 30-minute session. Mehdi Bennani opened hostilities with a lap of 2:38.340 but his mark was soon improved by Stefano D’Aste’s 2:38.300 and Monteiro’s 2:38.037.

Halfway through the session, Bennani regained the lead with a lap of 2:36.853 then Rob Huff made a major improvement after being timed at 2:34.789.

Eventually Monteiro pushed the time down to 2:33.908 that was still more than three seconds slower than last year’s pole position time.

Monteiro said: “It was only a test, the session was disrupted and not everybody used new tyres. OK, I’m happy, but we know we have to do a lot of work. I have a lot of experience here, but this car looks different. So I need to adapt it and also myself. We did our work as planned and we keep on working for tomorrow.”

D’Aste set the second fastest lap of 2:34.528, while Huff ranked third but gave the impression he could go faster, as he aborted a new lap after setting the fastest times in the first two sectors.

Huff commented: “It felt good. I deserved to be fastest, but I came into the pit after being one second faster at the end of the second sector. The car was good from the very beginning, but the grip on the track was unpredictable. It was easy to lock wheels at the braking and miss the apex in a few corners. It’s Macau, it’s me, I’m happy.”

As usual the Guia circuit claimed some victims. Key Cozzolino, Franz Engstler and Mak Ka Lok escaped high-speed spins but the same did not apply to O’Young who spun at the Mandarin Oriental bend, crashed into the barrier head-on and bounced back to hit the opposite barrier.

Henry Ho did not complete a lap as he stopped a few metres after exiting the pits, when the fire extinguisher activated itself and filled the BMW cockpit with powder.