Next weekend the FIA World Touring Car Championship will raise the curtain on their 2009 championship at the Brazilian round of the calendar held at the Curitiba circuit. Tiago Monteiro and SEAT Sport will head into this round with the aim of defending their two titles, that of the drivers and teams secured in 2008. On a personal level, the Portuguese driver will be one of the candidates to win the world crown. With the same four teammates, among them the reigning champion, Yvan Muller, Tiago knows that he will have to capitalize on his vast experience from the past two years.
The driver from Porto has worked hard on developing the SEAT León TDI during the off season and admits the first races will be difficult:
"Testing went well and our progression was very encouraging but the new rules penalized us a lot. It is only in Brazil that we will know where we are with our rivals. But I am confident and determined to fight the other teams. SEAT Sport is a very professional team and the fact that we kept the same drivers and engineers will ease the communication, which will be instantly perfect and that's an important aspect to start the season on the right foot. We are here to defend our titles!"
After two years spent learning the World Championship and all its tricks, Tiago knows it is a series where experience means a lot and that it is not only a key factor in the management of the races but also for the whole championship. After having won two races in 2008 (Puebla in Mexico and Estoril in Portugal), Tiago believes he has matured and learnt valuable lessons in the past two years with SEAT Sport.
"It is mandatory to be fast in this championship, but consistency is also a very important factor. Suffice to say that the reigning champion, my teammate Yvan Muller won only one more race than I did. There have been a lot of unexpected problems during races, against which I could not do anything, but it is crucial to stay away from any confusion and to manage the race with care in order to keep the car in good shape so that we can get to the chequered flag. Sometimes it can be enough to score some points and be in a good position for the second race. This year, my aim will be this: to score points at each race. I want to open my scorecard in Curitiba, and make a good start in the championship."
The International Circuit of Curitiba, at 3965 meters in length, will once again be the scene of the inaugural round of the FIA WTCC Championship. Weather forecasters are warning against downpours, with maximum temperatures expected to reach 24°C. The races in Curitiba will be broadcasted by Eurosport with the qualifying on Saturday March 7 at 19:00, warm-up on Sunday March 8 at 12:30 and the two races at 16:00 and 19:00, UK time.