Experienced Touring Car driver Gabriele Tarquini has had a somewhat rocky 2013 with the all-new Castrol JAS Honda Civic racing team.

After scoring a victory and consistent podiums in the early stages of the season, the Italian has seen his fortunes change completely and the last three events have yielded not much more than bad luck for the 2009 FIA WTCC champion.

Tarquini managed to find a few minutes to speak with Dexter Fielding at this years' Goodwood Festival of Speed and here he discusses the highs and lows of 2013 and the next generation of regulations, which come into play next season...

Q:
How has the first half of the season been for you with Honda?

Gabriele Tarquini:
It's been unbelievably positive from my point of view. We've started with a new chassis and engine, but the car was immediately competitive. I scored two pole positions and a victory near the beginning of the season, so that was a period of good results for me and the team - especially in race one at Slovakia when all three cars on the podium were Honda, which was emotional.

Q:
You've recently been plagued with bad luck but what do you expect for the 'fly-away' races?

Gabriele Tarquini:
It is still a young car, we need more experience to discover the potential of the car and you need at least a year for that so that you can find out how much percentage of the car potential is there. We must work hard to improve everything, the engine and chassis, so that we can fight with the fastest cars. At the moment Chevrolet is faster than us in a few ways, but for some of the tracks we've been close and others not so close. For the rest of the championship we need to follow what we've done so far, in some races we've been able to fight for wins and podiums and other's we haven't. I expect to be competitive in Sonoma, Suzuka and Macau.

Q:
Has the Honda Civic met expectations?

Gabriele Tarquini:
Yes. The car was immediately very good, after a few laps on the first run in testing, I was positive about the potential of the car because it gave me good feedback - the engine driveability was also very good. We just need to improve on the faster tracks because on top speed, we are not very fast and also, we must improve the balance in the fast corners. At the moment we are competitive on slower corners and medium-pace circuits.

Q:
Are Yvan Muller and Chevrolet beatable?

Gabriele Tarquini:
For the championship, no. They have a really big gap; I haven't really scored big points in the last three meetings, due to accidents, bad luck and small mechanical problems. This has cost me a big gap in terms of points, which I won't be able to recover. I can fight for the top three in the championship and if I can achieve this, it will be a fantastic result.

Q:
How is the development going for next year's all new regulation car?

Gabriele Tarquini:
I haven't seen the car, to be honest with you. I know that JAS Motorsport is working on the car and Honda Japan are developing the new engine, it is too soon to say what will happen, as the project has been started with a clean sheet of white paper. We can only discover the car's real potential at the start of next year in the first race.

Q:
Do you agree with the new regulations?

Gabriele Tarquini:
Yes, I do. I think that now is also a good time to change. The current regulations are getting a bit old and we need a bit more power! The looks of the race cars will be close to the road car which is good, because people recognise the kind of car you are driving and they can relate to it, so there will be more appeal from the cars. So the next generation cars will be 'sexy!'

Q:
Apart from being 'sexy' what do you expect from the new cars?

Gabriele Tarquini:
30-40 more horse power and more downforce coming from the splitter and rear wing. To be honest, I'm a little afraid of the aerodynamics, as they could be deemed a little bit more formula or silhouette like. The new rules are a good combination of aerodynamic influence and mechanical performance. We need to fight on track and put on a good show for the fans. A bit like this year, if the aerodynamics is too involved then you cannot follow another car and race easily with the competition. So for me, I would say that the aerodynamics could be a bit of a down point.

Q:
Do you think that you'll be driving the new cars?

Gabriele Tarquini:
I hope so! I'm totally involved with Honda and I'm not looking to change teams. I feel at home and it is like a family with JAS. I know everybody and want to continue with Honda. I have no problem in continuing with them and I am involved with the development of next year's car. So I am sure that I will drive the new Honda.

Q:
Even at your age, how do you mentally and physically find the motivation to continue racing at a very high level?

Gabriele Tarquini:
Honestly, sitting in the car, I don't feel anything handicaps me... yet! Physically, you don't need to be ultra-fit to drive these cars fast on a track, like a younger racer, perhaps would be. I still feel mentally young, but I can use my experience as I feel that some positives come from my long-term racing career. I can use my knowledge to gain positions, save points and keep my car from hitting the barriers. So my age doesn't affect me. I am sure in a few years' time I will get slower and slower and someone will tell me to stop.

by Dexter Fielding

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