Honda Racing driver Tiago Monteiro will make an emotional first racing appearance in front of his home fans in three years when the WTCR - FIA World Touring Car Cup heads to Vila Real this weekend.
The historic, hugely popular street circuit in Portugal is back on the calendar for 2022 after the event was called off in each of the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and completes an Iberian double-header following last weekend’s visit to Motorland Aragon.
Tiago won the most recent WTCR race in Vila Real, taking an emotional first victory since returning from serious injury in front of a raucous crowd in 2019.
The Portuguese hopes the return to a street circuit will provide an upturn in fortunes, though that optimism is being tempered following an even tougher than expected weekend at Aragon.
His LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler team-mate Attila took his first WTCR pole position on his maiden visit to Vila Real in 2019 and led the race that Tiago went on to win before retiring with a spark plug issue.
Attila showed good pace at Aragon despite the difficulties faced by all four Civic Type R TCR drivers, and has set a target of being in the top 10 despite the compensation weight the car will again carry.
ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport are third in the Teams’ Championship despite the difficulties of the Aragon weekend, just 15 points shy of the lead.
Nestor Girolami will head to Vila Real as the best-placed of the Honda quartet in the Drivers’ standings, in which he sits sixth.
The Argentinian, who made his second World Touring Car appearance at Vila Real in 2015 at the wheel of a NIKA Racing Honda Civic WTCC, is looking to recapture the form he showed at the 2022 season opener where he claimed pole position and a victory on the streets of Pau.
His team-mate Esteban Guerrieri is likewise buoyant heading to the second street circuit of the season.
Esteban - who is the record win holder in the WTCR, which this weekend will celebrate its 100th race since its inception - has two podiums to his name in Vila Real, first from a chaotic race in 2018 then one year later when he finished third in Race Two, prior to Tiago’s triumph.