A number of Japanese engineers and technicians attended the test in Vallelunga. This marked a turning point in the working relationship between JAS Motorsport and Honda.
Yes, indeed. In previous years our role was to run racing cars which were not developed by ourselves in the Super Touring years. When we entered WTCC in 2005 with a JAS-developed Accord, it was with our own funding, as a private team. This is the first time we have been involved in a factory programme from inception. Honda designed and built a bespoke racing engine, and we are working side-by-side with the Japanese engineers at all stages. We share the same enthusiasm and I am so happy that we could establish such a good atmosphere between the two crews.
Does this mean that the team must adjust to the Japanese working methods?
We are all part of the same team: Honda Racing Team JAS. Everybody has his own role. Honda takes care of the engine and JAS of the chassis. These are two newborn babies and we have to work side-by-side to let them grow up together. The engine was our priority for the first test and so the Japanese took the lead in Vallelunga. We all like to plan the work to be done during a test, but at this stage, with so many new things, planning is nearly impossible.
How will your testing programme develop before the car’s first race at Suzuka?
We will test twice in Europe before shipping the car to Japan, where we will have one final test before Suzuka.
What are your goals for the final three WTCC events of the current season?
We all like to aim for victory! Then anything may happen - this is the right spirit when you take part in competitions. However, we must take into account that we have a brand new car, that we will start racing after only four test sessions and that the championship is very competitive. We have two great drivers, I know we have built a very advanced car and Honda’s reputation in engine expertise is second to none. We have all the right ingredients, we just need to be patient and take the time to mix them in the best way. We decided to take part in Suzuka, Shanghai and Macau to develop the car on the track. Although Honda is not putting any pressure on, we would like to achieve some good results - but our true goal is winning the first race in 2013.