Honda makes its debut as an official factory team in the World Touring Car Championship this weekend on home soil in the Race of Japan at Suzuka.
Tiago Monteiro will be behind the wheel of the brand new Honda Racing Team JAS-entered Honda Civic WTCC for Suzuka as well as the races in Shanghai and Macau, before being joined by Gabriele Tarquini for the full 2013 season once the Italian has seen out his contract with the Lukoil Racing Team.
“After testing in Vallelunga, Slovakia Ring and Portimao this summer, as well as at Sugo last week, my motivation has never been higher,” said Monteiro. “And now that we are only a few hours from the start of the event, I can feel the passion and excitement of the Honda fans building up.
“When you think about the amount of work that everyone at Honda and JAS has put in to get us here, I fully appreciate what a privilege it is to be the one behind the wheel. It is a very special moment, it really is.”
Daisuke Horiuchi, the WTCC Development Project Leader at Honda R&D said: “The entire team has been preparing for Suzuka ever since we announced our entry into the WTCC in February. It has obviously been a huge challenge, but we’re here and we’re ready.
“Part of the drive to get the car and team ready for these last three races of the 2012 WTCC calendar is that this race in Suzuka is so important to Honda. In 1962 our visionary founder Soichiro Honda designed this circuit – the very first racing circuit in Asia – so we were very motivated to make it here and be able to celebrate the 50th anniversary with our many fans and associates around the World.
“2012 is also the 40th anniversary of the Civic, so we couldn’t think of a better way to mark this important milestone than to see the latest European Civic compete at the highest level in the WTCC With these celebrations, this race at Suzuka will certainly be full of emotion for us. And whilst this is the Civic debut in the 2012 championship, with full entry only starting in 2013, I’m sure Tiago and the whole team will put in a performance fit for the occasion.”
The Honda will take to the track against the opposition for the first time in the Friday test session, at 05:30 BST. Two practice sessions take place on Saturday at 01:30 and 4:00 ahead of qualifying at 07:30. Sunday’s races are at 06:35 and 07:50, with coverage at thecheckeredflag.co.uk throughout the weekend.