Gabriele Tarquini has praised his SEAT team after securing the 2009 World Touring Car Championship title on the streets of Macau.
The Italian went into the weekend leading the three drivers still in contention for the title, but saw his chances of becoming the oldest winner of an FIA world title take a hit when he was involved in an incident with team-mate Yvan Muller in qualifying.
With his car repaired, Tarquini took his place on the grid and took second place in race one behind the Chevrolet of Rob Huff to move closer to the title.
Tarquini then sat in fifth place in race two when a multi-car accident brought out the red flags and when the decision was taken not to restart, one of the elder statesman on the grid was confirmed as champion.
“Maybe this was my last chance to be world champion and I took it,” he said. “It was a tough season especially against great drivers like Yvan (Muller) and Augusto (Farfus).
“I became the champion without knowing – the team was smiling and crying but I didn't have a radio so realised a little bit later. I started the weekend with a crash, which is obviously not the best way to win a championship. The mechanics were fantastic and spent all night and one day to re-build the car better than it was before! I must say thank you to the team who are unbelievable.”