One of the best touring car drivers in recent times, Tiago Monteiro, is set to return from injury after being sidelined for over a year.
Having been unable to take part in most of the 2018 World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) season, Monteiro will finally get the chance to drive his Boutsen Ginion Racing Honda – the car which has been kept warm by Benjamin Lessennes and Ma Qing Hua up until now.
The Portuguese has faced a very tough recovery from the serious head and neck injuries he sustained in the Summer of 2017, when he crashed his TC1-spec Honda Civic during a test session in Spain. However, despite fears that he might not be able to regain fitness, Monteiro is now ready to race.
Of course, his return to competitive driving will be an emotional one, and it is perhaps fitting that it’ll happen next week at Suzuka in Japan – the homeland of Monteiro’s team, Honda.
At the time of the accident, Monteiro was leading the World Touring Car Championship points standings, so if he can regain fitness for the full 2019 season he’ll be a hot favourite for the title. For now though, it’s all about regaining confidence on the track. Plus, although he’ll be driving at Suzuka, Monteiro will not be behind the wheel at the season finale at Macau – a street circuit where the potential for accident is very high.
“I cannot even begin to tell you how good it feels to be back,” he said. “There were times when the situation looked pretty bleak, but I never lost hope that this day would come and that has kept me determined to push harder than ever to get back to where I want to be. Coming to races all year and watching other people do what I should be doing has been tearing me up inside, so I think Suzuka is going to be quite emotional.
“The fact that I’ll be returning at Honda’s home circuit – the same place I made my first WTCC start with them in 2012 – is also very special and a great way to repay the faith and support they’ve shown me throughout my recovery period.”
“I’m not setting targets; I just want to have fun, get comfortable and play myself in at my own pace before I come back full time in 2019, and that – along with advice from my doctors – is why I won’t do Macau. I am so grateful to the professionals that have helped me in my recovery, my family, friends and supporters; you’ve all been amazing throughout this tough time.”