James Thompson has launched a scathing attack on Fernando Monje for the incident that saw both drivers retire from the second World Touring Car Championship race of the weekend on the streets of Marrakech.
Thompson had been eager to add to his first points finish of the season in the opening race in Morocco when he was hit from behind by Monje's SEAT under braking for the penultimate chicane – putting both men out on the spot.
Monje was later handed a five-place grid penalty for the incident - to be served in the next round of the season in Slovakia – but Thompson admitted he was far from impressed with his rival's driving.
“It's a pity,” he said. “Fernando actually hit me several times in both races and there is absolutely no need for things like that. In the second race he deliberately hit me from the back, and there's no justification for driving in that way, as he wasn't trying to overtake me at the time.
“It's not only unprofessional but it's also dangerous for himself and everyone else around him. You can't play with these cars: it's a dangerous sport, so it's great that the stewards have taken action and he realises this sooner rather than later.”
Thompson did however admit that there were positives to take away from the weekend after he opened his account for the season with tenth in race one.
“The speed of the LADA Granta has been consistently good all weekend,” he said. “I was right in the slipstream behind Tom Coronel and it's clear that our car has got great potential.
"Unfortunately we didn't get the chance to fight for the result that I knew was possible. We were in the top ten in the first race, taking a point, and I think we would have done even better in the second race.”
New team-mate Mikhail Kozlovskiy secured two solid finishes on his first outing in the WTCC, leaving team principal Victor Shapovalov with mixed emotions following the weekend.
“This was definitely a weekend of mixed fortunes,” he said. “On the one hand, we finished the first race in the top ten and scored our first point in the drivers' championship. We also shouldn't underestimate what Mikhail achieved on his debut at such a tricky circuit. But we're naturally very disappointed by the incident that James fell victim to.
“These driving standards are not suitable for a global championship at this level, and we're pleased that the stewards agree with us on this point. Now we will draw a line under the incident and concentrate on preparing for the next round in Slovakia.”