Tiago Monteiro ended the first round of the World Touring Car Championship season with points in the bag after finishing seventh in Race Two at Curitiba in Brazil.
With Monteiro's SUNRED Engineering team not yet ready to introduce its 1.6 litre turbocharged engine for the new 2011 technical regulations, the Portuguese racer was left off the pace of frontrunners in his SEAT Leon.
Monteiro started seventh on the grid for the opening race of the season, but could not cope with the speed of the BMWs down the straights and crossed the finish line down in 11th, just outside the points.
“Our top speed was not enough compared to our competition, and I had to give up places to cars running the 1.6 litre turbo engine,” he said.
Monteiro started the second race in tenth, thanks to the newly-adjusted reverse grid system for 2011. With the top ten from Q1 being reversed to decide the grid for Race Two, Monteiro paid the penalty for going quickest in the session.
“This is the exact scenario we were afraid of,” he said after qualifying. “In Q1 some drivers won’t chase the performance, they want to be as close as possible of the pole position of the second race. I was 4th at the end of my first run and I should have called it a day. Unfortunately my last lap was too fast, that beats everything for a sport where speed is the rule number 1.”
Despite this disappointing situation, Monteiro was able to move up to seventh during the course of the second race, clinching six championship points and putting him eighth in the drivers' standings.
Monteiro will have to continue to make the best of the engine situation for the next couple of meetings as he waits for the SEAT 1.6 litre turbo.
“We made some changes to the car and they proved very effective,” Monteiro explained. “The overall result is very encouraging. We know we have two difficult race meetings ahead of us, but it was very important to start scoring despite our handicap, and our objective will be to continue scoring points in the meantime, until we have the new engine.”