James Thompson has hailed the N.Technology team after scoring a historic victory for them in the latest World Touring Car round at Imola.
Having spent the season developing the Honda Accord Euro R, which last raced in the WTCC two years ago as an independent entry, Thompson has shown flashes of speed, but reliability dramas and on-track scuffles meant he only had three points to his name after 12 races.
However, with the revised Imola circuit, which now features a long, high-speed home straight, proving a new challenge for all the teams, the level playing field, coupled to Thompson's lighter car, served to make him a contender all weekend.
Recovering from a poor start in the first race to finish third, Thompson got away better in the second race from sixth on the grid and was third by the end of the first lap.
From here, he wasted no time in dispatching Nicola Larini and then Jorg Muller, putting the car into the lead of a race for the first time. Going on to win by a comfortable margin, Thompson has praised the team for their perseverance in making the programme a success already.
"I want to thank everyone concerned with the whole programme. To be here today after having such a strong weekend is testament to having a fantastic team with such a strong belief in the project.
“The car was so fast this weekend; I always had it in the back of my mind that we could be on the podium. We had a really clean race and I was beaming like a Cheshire cat as I crossed the line!
"We have achieved so much and we now need to concentrate on the last third of the season. Monza plays well into the strengths of our car, so we will be aiming to get on the podium once or twice more in the remainder of the season."
With the Honda replacing the successful, but ageing, Alfa Romeo 156 this season, N.Technology team manager Andrea Muller was thrilled to call themselves winners again.
"It has been a fantastic weekend! We were very fast and competitive; it shows how good the Honda really is. I hope for another good result in Monza, as it is another fast track. The team did a really good job, and James drove a perfect race. I'm very happy!"