One of the most eagerly-awaited comebacks in recent motorsport history will be made when the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO resumes at Suzuka in Japan next week (26-28 October).
Tiago Monteiro, who hasn’t raced since suffering serious head and neck injuries in a testing crash at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on 6 September 2017, will drive the #18 Honda Civic Type R TCR for Boutsen Ginion Racing at WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan, in what will be an emotional return 415 days after his accident.
Monteiro, 42, has fought a courageous and arduous battle to regain fitness since his accident, overcoming doubts that he would ever drive again. However, while he’ll be in action in Japan, his attendance at the Macau season closer will be in an advisory capacity only on medical advice.
“I cannot even begin to tell you how good it feels to be back,” said the Portuguese. “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.”
He continued: “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.”
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, the WTCR promoter, said: “I can speak on behalf of every member of the WTCR OSCARO family when I say how pleased we are to welcome Tiago back to racing. His recovery has been lengthy and painful, but his determination to get back on track is an inspiration to us all. It’s been a long and tough road but Tiago never stopped believing this day would come and we are so happy for him.”