Honda‘s new World Touring Car Championship challenger, the Civic WTCC, has been unveiled after  it made its testing debut in Italy.

The car took to the track for the first time on July 27 for a shakedown at Vairano, near the Milan base of the JAS Motorsport operation that is running the Japanese manufacturer’s programme.

Testing of the car then began on Tuesday and Wednesday this week at the Vallelunga circuit near Rome.

The testing has been led by Italian Gabriele Tarquini, the 2009 world champion who will race the car in the 2013 season and has been designated as the development driver for 2012. The car will make its racing debut in the final three rounds of the 2012 campaign, with Tiago Monteiro behind the wheel.

Alessandro Mariani is the team principal of Honda Racing Team JAS, and spoke after seeing the car make its track debut.

“To see the finished Civic finally on the race track is an extremely emotional moment for the whole team,” said Mariani. “I am so proud of everyone involved.

“They have managed to accomplish so much in such a short period of time. Everyone has been working tirelessly for this day to happen and the new car and engine are no less than our expectations.

“The initial track testing has already provided us with a lot of feedback and data, but the road to Suzuka in October remains a long one.  This isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning. From here we will make ourselves even busier.”

Honda Civic WTCC - Photo Credit: Honda

Photo Credit: Honda

Tarquini said: “Although I’d never driven the new Civic before, funnily, when I sat in the seat for the first time I immediately felt I was in a Honda. The body work is precise and the engine feels great. But this is just the first track test, so there is so much more for us to work on.

“The car looks beautiful too and will, I’m sure, wow all the WTCC fans around the world when it makes its debut in Suzuka later this year.”