Gabriele Tarquini was left with mixed emotions from the second round of the World Touring Car Championship, taking the best result of the season to date for the new Honda Civic but also failing to finish for the first time in 2013.
The Italian caused something of a surprise when he secured pole position in qualifying, marking the first pole position for the Civic and the first time that a Honda had topped the times since Mexico 2005 – when Roberto Colciago set the quickest time in qualifying before a ten-place grid penalty he was carrying into the event came into force.
Tarquini led the early stages of the opening race before losing position to Michel Nykjaer shortly before the Safety Car was deployed following team-mate Tiago Monteiro's accident and then followed the Chevrolet man home to the finish in second place.
Race two however would end in disappointing fashion, when a brake issue saw him run wide at the final chicane – launching him over the kerbs and into retirement when he collected the Chevrolet of Alex MacDowall and went into the wall.
“[In race one] it was difficult to keep Nykjær behind. Unfortunately I made one mistake and he used it for overtaking me,” he said. “We have definitely improved in terms of speed, but we are still slower than the Chevrolet cars and therefore I couldn't get close enough to Nykjær in the last laps to try and pass him.
“[In race two] I had brake problems. It was the first time I drove the car on a circuit that is hard for brakes and after five, six laps I began to have problems. I was not able to overtake [Marc] Basseng and MacDowall was on my tail. With hindsight I should have let MacDowall pass to cool down the brakes…”
Tarquini's pole and podium were the undoubted highlights of a tough weekend for Honda after Tiago Monteiro failed to score, with team boss Alessandro Mariani looking very much at the positives.
“It is tough to be really challenging at this level, but pole position and second place showed the great potential we have,” he said. “The season is very busy with many races and we must try to keep up with our development plans in between those races.”