Double race-winning privateer Esteban Guerrieri has been rewarded for his hugely promising maiden FIA World Touring Car Championship season with a factory drive at WTCC JVC/KENWOOD Race of Japan this weekend.
Argentine Guerrieri will stand in for Tiago Monteiro at Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team after Monteiro was advised by doctors to remain at home in his native Portugal to continue his recovery from the effects of a high-speed testing accident in Spain last month.
The 32-year-old is in his first full season in the WTCC in a Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 and has notched up wins in Morocco and China. After 14 rounds, he’s seventh in the overall standings and fourth in the WTCC Trophy for independent racers. Campos Racing has given the move its full support and has signed ETCC prize-winner and rising star Kris Richard as Guerrieri’s replacement for the Twin Ring Motegi weekend.
“We are very happy to be part of Esteban’s success and we are delighted he has got this opportunity with a factory team,” said Campos Racing’s Ruben Espin. “Although we were hoping he could continue his push for the WTCC Trophy with our team, one of our main goals was to help Esteban develop as a WTCC driver in the hope that one day a chance like this came along. Now it has, we are really pleased for him because it’s richly deserved after all his hard work and outstanding on-track performances. He will continue to be part of the Campos Racing family and we wish him all the best for WTCC Race of Japan this weekend. Our focus will now be on helping the next young talent to join our team, Kris Richard.”
Having excelled in single-seater racing in the past against current F1 stars Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, Guerrieri was the fastest driver of all when he made his WTCC debut in his homeland in August 2016 and was chosen by a selection of WTCC journalists as their rookie of the year as a result.
“I was sorry to hear that Tiago would not be able to race this weekend, but I’m extremely excited to have been given the opportunity to join Honda for Motegi and to drive a factory car in the WTCC,” said Guerrieri. “I’d also like to thank Campos Racing for their positivity throughout this process and to everybody who has helped in making my move to Honda possible. Motegi is a new circuit for me and I’ve never even driven the Civic WTCC, so I’m aware that there’s a lot to learn, but I’m confident that I can do a strong job of helping Honda in the Manufacturers’ championship and supporting Norbi’s [Michelisz] Drivers’ title ambitions.”
Guerrieri will get his first taste of Honda Civic WTCC power during Free Practice 1 and Twin Ring Motegi on Saturday afternoon, when he will sample the track for the first time. He will also make his debut in the Manufacturers Against the Clock (WTCC MAC3) team time trial when he joins new team-mates Norbert Michelisz and Ryo Michigami in the Tour de France-inspired contest. Honda heads Volvo Polestar in the FIA World Touring Car Championship for Manufacturers by five points.
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, the WTCC promoter, said: “We’re very pleased that Esteban’s talents have been rewarded with a factory drive in Japan. He will have a lot to adapt to in a short space of time but there is no doubting his ability.”