Seriously injured in a high-speed testing crash in 2017, Tiago Monteiro was planning for a life more ordinary in 2018 having accepted he would never race again.
But the fighting spirit that had earned the Portuguese driver a Formula One podium in the 2005 US Grand Prix, and got him through weeks of intensive care, kicked in again, as he explains to Martin Haven in the second part of his WTCR Fast Talk podcast presented by Goodyear.
“When I missed the first race [after my accident] I thought, okay, I’ll be there for the next one in Japan,” Monteiro recalls. “But I couldn’t see with my eyes [like they were], I couldn’t move, I could hardly take a bottle of water with my right arm, so how the hell could I think about driving?
“Then when nothing was evolving at all physically after six months, I said, ‘okay, that’s it’. I was lucky enough to be here and to survive and my goal now was to try to have a normal life, be able to take my kids to school, go and buy the groceries, even if I have to wear glasses and can’t see very well. But there’s no way I’m ever going to drive again and, even if I could, do I really want it, is the risk worth it?”
But encouraged by his family and close entourage and motivated by the feeling of needing revenge for losing out on winning the FIA World Touring Car Championship in 2017, Monteiro sought to defy medical experts by regaining his fitness and being able to see properly again.
It required months of treatment, which included countless trans-Atlantic flights and even a visit to NASA for assessment. However, 415 days after his crash, Monteiro was back on track at Suzuka – via a guard of honour formed by his fellow drivers – for WTCR Race of Japan in 2018.
Then, against all odds, he won his home round of the WTCR in Vila Real last July to complete the ultimate comeback amid highly emotional scenes.
“I won my biggest race to recover from the hardest situation of all,” Monteiro reveals in part two of his WTCR Fast Talk podcast presented by Goodyear. “Any win in Portugal is important, the comeback in Suzuka was important because it was the first main step of my return. But now I was just another competitor and I could be sure none of my competitors would make a special effort because it was me behind them or in front of them.
“The gloves were off and the season was starting again. The level of drivers was just amazing [for 2019] and the return was in very hard conditions and we struggled big time. Winning again on a street track in Vila Real, honestly that’s the highest, highest point of my career because I was coming back from hell.”
But the crash, recovery and victory in Vila Real are just a part of Tiago Monteiro’s incredible career story that began more than 20 years ago and shows no sign of slowing down as he prepares for the delayed 2020 WTCR season, which he’ll contest in an ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport-prepared Honda Civic Type R TCR on Goodyear tyres.
He spent two years in Formula One scoring points and a podium finish before beginning his FIA World Touring Car adventure, initially with SEAT in 2007 before his association with Honda began in 2012.
PART 2 CONTENT
01m03: Back for real in Australia
01m30: Learning to believe
01m43: On the grid with Button, Barrichello and Schumacher
03m12: The opportunity of a lifetime after a weird US Grand Prix
05m40: Right time, right moment
07m13: The toothache in Turkey
08m10: Completely destroyed with pain
10m00: Tense times with Colin Kolles
12m15: The most amazing dentist ever
13m41: Formula One dream is over after unhappy end
16m37: Not prepared to take the risk at Toro Rosso
18m50: Unconventional challenge in World Touring Cars
21m00: Keeping at a high level
22m05: Contacting WTCC teams
22m30: Testing with Muller, Rydell, Gené and Tarquini
23m41: Struggling with no power and no downforce but happy
25m10: A delayed start to a WTCC ‘gap year’ waiting for Toro Rosso
28m30: Formula One remains the goal despite the problems
30m13: Falling back in love with racing
31m10: Ethanol-powered memories in Portugal
33m15: A podium only in Porto
34m10: Still a seat but a different seat at SEAT
37m00: Moving home to Honda
40m13: A dream podium in Andrea Adamo’s Civic after early struggles
43m10: Embracing new cultures amid dynamite and fights
46m05: Title success and race win huge for Honda
48m02: Hitting the ground running with the best car ever in 2017
49m50: The crash that changed everything
53m30: Unconscious in the car, to hospital by helicopter and the biggest headache imaginable
53m50: Torn and dislocated
55m40: In a bad way in intensive care
58m35: Hoping for a quick return to defend championship lead
1h00m35: Struggling to see and move
1h00m59: Aiming for a normal life with no prospect of a return
1h01m52: Changing my mind to get revenge
1h03m00s: Family encourage track return
1h05m01s: Racing again an inspiration for his children
1h06m00s: Defying medical experts and visiting NASA during heroic recovery
1h07m59s: Faster the recovery the better
1h09m20s: Dream return at Suzuka despite the risks
1h11m52s: Winning my biggest race
1h12m29s: Feeling the love
1h13m46s: Victory in Vila Real after big-time struggles
1h15m15s: The highest, highest point of my career after coming back from hell
1h16m45s: Happy to be a problem again for my rivals
1h18m06s: Fantastic Formula One times with 1000 horsepower in qualifying
All Fast Talk podcasts are presented by Goodyear, the WTCR’s official tyre supplier, and hosted by Martin Haven, the voice of WTCR. To listen to parts one and two of Tiago Monteiro’s podcasts click here or follow this link: https://www.fiawtcr.com/wtcr-fast-talk/
Content lists for parts one and two of Tiago Monteiro’s WTCR Fast Talk podcast presented by Goodyear are available separately. A selection of key quotes will also be made available.