ON WTCC FINALE WIN
N.Technology came tantalisingly close to securing its second win of the season yesterday in the finale of the 2008 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at the Circuito da Guia, Macau. After leading for seven of the nine laps, N.Technology driver James Thompson was involved in an incident that forced him into the barriers, less than two laps from the chequered flag and a possible race win.
Friday's 45-minute qualifying session saw Thompson qualify in 11th place after setting a fastest lap of 2:31.712. Behind the wheel of the Honda Accord Euro R Super 2000, the Brit demonstrated that he had the pace in race trim, setting the fastest lap time during this morning's warm up session. Thompson delivered a strong performance in round 23, improving his position by three places to finish eighth, claiming another points-finish and securing pole position for race two.
A good start in the final round ensured the 34-year-old kept the lead ahead of Augusto Farfus. Thompson went on to dominate the race, leading the world-class field until an incident on lap eight saw him hit the barrier at the tight street track. With severe damage, Thompson managed to edge the N.Technology car across the finish line to claim 14th place.
Macanese team-mate André Couto also drove a strong first race to improve his position from 16th on the grid to a 13th place finish, making him the highest finishing WTCC guest driver. Couto had a good start to round 24, moving into ninth place during the first lap. However, an incident on the second lap saw the Macanese driver hit the barrier and retire.
After starting a new chapter in their WTCC project this year with the Honda Accord Euro R Super 2000, N.Technology continuously improved throughout 2008. The Italian team secured six points-finishes, including two podiums, with driver James Thompson who won in Imola, Italy, last September.
James Thompson, car number 15 "It has been a disappointing end to the season for the team; we did everything we could today. To have Augusto [Farfus] hit us so close to the finish and take it away is gutting. The team worked long and hard to get into this position. The car was extremely fast all weekend and we had the race pace; to have the result stolen from us is a terrible disappointment."
André Couto, car number 66 "I am not happy that I made a mistake in race two, especially as I was getting used to the car and had already passed four drivers in the first lap. The car was very competitive and I was getting quicker. I want to thank N.Technology for inviting me to race with them again this year; the team did a good job and I want to thank them for their support."
Andrea Muller, Team manager "It is a shame to have to end the season in this way. James has driven exceptionally well considering the difficult track and the car was very fast. We had a great first race to move from 11th into 8th and get pole position for race two. To do well and go home knowing that a win was so close is very disheartening for the team. Thanks to all of them for their hard work and effort; they have done a fantastic job this year.
"Couto had a very good first race and improved his position to 13th. In race two he managed to get into 9th place when he made a small mistake and hit the barrier. With more time in the car, he was improving his performance and was beginning to get competitive, so it is a shame for him not to finish the race."
FIA WTCC - MacauRound 23 results - top eight1. Alain Menu (SUI), Chevrolet Lacetti2. Andy Priaulx (GBR), BMW 320si3. Yvan Muller (FRA), SEAT León TDI4. Augusto Farfus (BRA), BMW 320si5. Robert Huff (GBR), Chevrolet Lacetti6. Jordi Gené (ESP), SEAT León TDI7. Gabriele Tarquini (ITA), SEAT León TDI8. James Thompson (GBR), Honda Accord Euro R Super 2000 13. André Couto (MAC), Honda Accord Euro R Super 2000
Round 24 results - top eight 1. Robert Huff (GBR), Chevrolet Lacetti2. Yvan Muller (FRA), SEAT León TDI3. Andy Priaulx (GBR), BMW 320si4. Rickard Rydell (SWE), SEAT León TDI5. Alessandro Zanardi (ITA), BMW 320si6. Frank Engstler (GER), BMW 320si 7. Manabu Orido (JAP), Chevrolet Lacetti 8. Matthew Marsh (HKG), BMW 320si 14. James Thompson (GBR), Honda Accord Euro R Super 2000DNF André Couto (MAC), Honda Accord Euro R Super 2000